Nuevo Tejas #1

Here’s something I wrote up for a Macross RPG forum I was playing in.  For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a Texan.  Which means I’m obsessed with Texas so I created a Texas planet so that I could have a space Texan in the game.  This is pretty long so I’m going to break it up into three chunks.

HISTORY:

When the SDF Macross evacuated Macross Island and went into space to fight the invading Zentraedi fleet, a significant portion of the American troops on the ship were from the state of Texas. Additionally, there were a few Mexican troops as well as tourists from both Texas and Mexico visiting the ship and island.

The 150 year cultural and racial merger of these two peoples was already accelerated by the virtual demolition of national borders by the world government even before the war. When the remnants of these two groups were returned to their home on Earth after the war, it was all but completed. Though many people on both sides clung to their national and racial heritage, to most outsiders, there was no difference.

Through a mixture of verbal tradition and the fairy tales told in movies and holovids, a new culture not too distant from that of the 19th century in Texas developed. A large part of this culture involved facing the wilds with sardonic bravery, pushing the boundaries of society into the wilderness, and having lots of space from neighbors. Thus, when the colonization project was announced, it took little time for enough settlers from this region to be gathered to populate a ship.

It was agreed with little dissent to head towards the Sigma Region as the natural spirit of these people was to head out rather than in. Scouting had already been performed on many of the planets and the Texan/Mexican colonists picked one with a major landmass not unlike their home.

Covered in grasslands in the north, fading to an arid, hilly region in the middle and to a jungle in the south, the eastern border was thickly forested while the western contained low, but rugged mountains. Though they brought their own animals and plants native to their homeland, as well as the cloning machines that would quickly increase their number, they found quite a few native species that were in some ways familiar and in others quite alien.

The colonists thrived on the planet, and true to form, quickly scattered with small settlements of a dozen or so families far more common than large cities.

LIFEFORMS:

The Nuevo Tejans wanted to recreate the wildlife that existed in Texas during the 18th and 19th centuries in their new home. To this end, they brought longhorn cattle, wolves, coyotes, bears, buffalo, antelopes, boars, deer, horses, sheep, and pets and novelty animals like dogs, cats, snakes, scorpions and horned toads. Additionally, their new home possessed an already thriving fauna. The three most notable of these alien animals are the Brontolos, Zergans and Devil Snakes.

Brontolos: These massive beasts are herd animals not unlike buffalo. However, they are twice the size, weighing in at 2+ tons and have a more primitive appearance. Their horns are massive structures that cover the entire upper portions of their heads. Additional bony plates protect their shoulders, spines and flanks, leaving only the sides and undersides of their bodies vulnerable to attack. Brontolos, despite, or perhaps because of, their immense size are docile creatures. They feed on grass and other vegetable matter, and, not unlike Earth elephants they are so massive that few predators dare to attack them. However, their meat is quite succulent and tasty and it didn’t take long for the new human inhabitants of the planet to discover this and begin hunting and domesticating them.

Zergans: These animals inhabit the mountains on the western part of the continent for the most part, though a few also lair in the forests to the east and all make hunting forays over the central plains. These massive, predatory birds have wingspans of 12’ or more and (other than humans with their flying machines) are the unrivalled masters of the sky. They are capable of killing and carrying off a full grown deer and even horses are not safe from the largest members of this species. Zergans have approximately the intelligence of dogs, a fact not lost on the settlers. It wasn’t long after colonizing the planet that they began the process of domesticating the beasts as riding animals.

Devil Snakes: Also known as Satan’s Serpents and Horned Vipers, these creatures are the true terrors of Nuevo Tejas. Like Earthly snakes, they hatch from eggs and are fully viable and self sufficient from birth. They average a foot long at hatching, but can grow to truly massive size. It is not uncommon to find specimens of 20’ long and they continue to grow throughout their lives. The largest example ever topped out at over 35’ hand had a half-digested, full-grown man in its stomach when it was killed. Rumors abound of even larger versions of the creature. More frightening than the creatures’ size, which generally matches that of constrictors on Earth, is the fact that they are venomous. Devil Snakes are the only native creatures known to be able to slay a Brontolo (though even the largest cannot devour such a massive beast.) Their venom can easily slay one of the two ton beasts and a human bitten by one of these vipers has only seconds to live. The most frightening trait of these beasts, however, is the fact that they possess a high level of cunning and intelligence. Though no one ascribes human levels of intelligence to them, few can argue that they are as smart as monkeys and some apes. The lack of opposable digits limits them, but Devil Snakes have an uncanny knack for ending up in surprising, seemingly impossible places, stalking their prey and setting up ambushes playing to their strengths. The names for these beasts come from the large horn like protrusions that extend from the backs of their skull. Like the pits of Earth vipers, these appendages sense heat to a remarkable degree and allow Devil Snakes to operate in absolute darkness with ease.

DEMOGRAPHICS:

Fully 99% of the population of Nuevo Tejas is human. Only 1% of the citizens of the colony are Meltrandi or Zentraedi. Of the humans, the mix is 45% hispanic, 35% white, 15% black with the remaining 5% made up of numerous other races. It should be noted, however, that an ever rising percentage of the population can no longer claim to be “purely” of one race or another. With each generation, the intermixing of the races becomes more prevalent.

LANGUAGE:

English, due to its precision and flexibility is used for all official and legal documents on Nuevo Tejas. However, because of its inherent poetry and descriptive nature, Spanish is used for most songs and art. Every Nuevo Tejan is fluent in both languages and the usual language spoken on the street is commonly referred to as Spanglish. A mixture of the two languages, Spanglish usually involves using either English or Spanish primarily while sprinkling words and phrases from the other language throughout liberally. Often, a Nuevo Tejan will switch from Spanish to English and sometimes back in the same sentence and it is not uncommon for one person in a conversation to speak primarily English while the other speaks Spanish. This is nothing unusual for Nuevo Tejans and they generally don’t even notice the changes. However, it can be unnerving and confusing for outsiders who either don’t understand or have only a limited understanding of either root language.

Plot Device 1

Before my current campaign started, I brainstormed several potential adventures.  And, each time I read another Savage Worlds supplement, I would think of something more…or something from the supplement that would be added to one of these existing plots.  And, of course, I steal plots and adventures wholesale from supplements.  For example, my campaign universe includes the 50 Fathoms setting as a world in one of the planetary systems.  So, of course, the party has run into an adventure straight out of that book.

 

I can’t, of course, put the plots that they haven’t hit yet up here.  There’s at least a chance that one of the players reads this blog (though no evidence…let’s test it…anyone who mentions this gets a free benny.)  But as a look into how my brain and notes work, here is the one plot I developed that they actually hit and the notes where they went away from my rails.  I’ll put the notes in Brackets.

 

Scepter of Pini-Ya plot. [Pini-Ya is a pun on the name of a moderately famous gaming pod caster who pronounces “necromancer” in an odd way.  My campaign, though everyone involved’s fault, is pretty pun heavy.  I didn’t intend it at first, but that’s how it worked out and I don’t mind.]

Derelict Nautiloid in the middle of a Skeleton Minefield.  [It was part of an ancient battle]

Skeleton Minefield [This is just an area of space strewn with animated skeletons folded up in balls and left to fall into the gravity wells of passing ships.  Being undead they’ve existed there for millennia and can remain there indefinitely.]

Armed with Shortswords: Str + d6 & Bucklers +1 to Parry

Requires a Notice Check to spot or party assumes it is just debris.

A Piloting check at -2 brings only skeletons = to the party on deck.  Raise avoids all.  Failure brings in party x 2.

All weapons [on the Nautiloid] are inoperable.  [I planned this as a very early adventure so I didn’t want them looting the ship for more weapons.  In the end, I forgot this part and the weapons were functioning, leading to a short ship to ship battle, though the Nautiloid could not maneuver.]

It is populated by up to 20 zombies and 2 Void Ghouls (Undead Created by a curse on those who commit cannibalism in space.  Happens when they suffocate when air envelope expires) [I created these before I got the Fantasy Companion and they were just my version of Ghouls.  I didn’t want to waste them so I made them into a different type of undead, one more suited to my space campaign.]

 

Void Ghoul

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d10, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Intimidation: d8, Notice: d6, Shooting: d6, Throwing: d6

Pace: 6             Parry: 6            Toughness: 9

Special abilities: Claws: Str+d4

Frenzy: 2 attks at -2 to both

Undead: +2 to recover from shaken, no extra damage from called shots

 

Void Ghoul King rules the Nautiloid

Agility: d8, Smarts: d10, Spirit: d10, Strength: d12+3, Vigor: d12

Skills: Fighting: d10, Guts: D10, Intimidation: d12, Notice: d8, Shooting: d8, Swim: d8, Throwing: D8

Pace: 6             Parry: 7            Toughness: 12(2)

Special Abilities: Claws: Str + d4

Improved Frenzy: Make two attacks per round without penalty.

Level Headed: Act on the best of two cards

Undead: +2 Toughness, +2 to recover from being shaken, called shots do no extra damage, no wound penalties.

Gear: Ornate Longsword +1 Fighting, AP 2 (Str+d8, AP2), Ornate chain hauberk (+2 Armor), Crown (as Pot Helm) (+3 50%)

 

If wounded, dives out of back window & escapes in bone flitter hidden in jettison.  [This almost went wrong as the party came very close to killing him in one round…not the first round but taking him from 3 wounds to none in one set of attacks.]

 

Escapes to skeletal kindori.  2 Void ghouls, 10 skeletons, 10 zombies. [I expected the party to get back on their ship and chase down the fleeing Void Ghoul King.  Instead, they swiped a lifeboat from the Nautiloid and chased him down.  After crashlanding, and it’s debatable which is more descriptive, they quickly vanquished the crew of the skeletal ship.]

 

[I’ve always liked the idea of living ships and Kindori space whales are pretty awesme.  Turn them into an unliving ship and they’re even more awesome.  Oh, and after defeating the Void Ghoul King, they traded the Skeletal Kindori to a necromancer acquaintance for 10 skeletal soldiers and an amulet to control them.]

 

Skeletal Kindori

Agility: d6, Smarts: d4(a), Spirit: d10, Strength: d12+10, Vigor: d12

Skills: Fighting: d6, Guts: d8, Notice: d10, Piloting: d8, Stealth: d10

Pace: 0(24)      Parry: 5            Toughness: 20

Special Abilities: Hardy: Further Shaken results have no further affect

Size: +10

Slam: Fighting vs. opposed boating roll Str + 4d6

Undead : +2 Toughness, +2 to recover from shaken, doesn’t suffer additional damage from called shots, immune to disease or poison.

Flight: 24

Maneuverability: +1

Tonnage: 40

Cargo: 10

Weapons: 2 ballistas and 1 catapult

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New Blood

Just a couple weeks ago, we added a new member to our gaming group.  Adding new members is pretty much an ongoing task with us.  Our group has been as big as 7 or 8 and for a very long time was 6.  For the last several years, it has been at 5 with a few short bursts back up to 6.  Comfortable as we are with 4 players and a GM, I think the group likes having 5 players and, given the changes that have recently happened and changes that are likely to happen soon, we may need a new player just to stay at 5 for the long term.

 

Of course, the problem is finding someone to add.  Ours is a somewhat lonely hobby.  Most people only know about it in the most peripheral way and few of those who do know about it have any interest in participating.  Just finding someone who likes fantasy/sci-fi or games isn’t enough.  It takes a special person to be talked into sitting around a table with a group of other grownups and play pretend.

 

In fact, I’ve had a false start or two.  One of my coworkers and her husband played World of Warcraft  and I tried for a while to get them both to join our group.  While they showed some interest, in the end, neither actually came to a session.

 

Then, too, there is the problem of finding someone who fits into your group.  Much as we might like to think so sometimes, just because someone shares this interest doesn’t mean we will like them.  In fact, thought RPGs are a very social hobby, they have often attracted some anti-social individuals.  I know from personal experience that it is not pleasant to have to have a conversation with someone asking them not to return to a group because they are disrupting it.

 

Fortunately, I have recently come into closer contact with an acquaintance who shares my love for geeky things and who had…once upon a time, waaaay back…played RPGs.  He was happy to join our group and was looking for a way to get back into the hobby.

 

Unfortunately, this is such a rare event that I don’t have much practice at it and didn’t handle it as well as I could.  I gave the new player little more than the elevator pitch for the game before the night that we played.  He was unfamiliar with the rules and, of course, unfamiliar with my fairly unique universe which probably has waay too many little details.

 

Fortunately, we are playing Savage Worlds, so even with all that, it took us only about half an hour to get him a character created.  And it was a great character.  I added Mechanids (my campaigns version of fauxbots…) largely because I expected one of my regular players to want to play a robot.  He, of course, decided to play a relatively ordinary, if extraordinary in his own way, human.  The new players concept most closely resembled a Mechanid, though so it was good that I had them available (though the more I think about it, the more I think I could have worked out something else that would have fit better, in hindsight.)

 

This Mechanid was created by Imperial Arcanomancers as part of a group designed to serve as a doctor’s assistant or medic.  This particular one was selected by a rogue member of the group to become a covert assassin, his knowledge of anatomy making him an exceptional killer and his guise as a medic allowing suspicion to pass over him.

 

The more complex programming had an unforeseen consequence, though and Dr. Napalm gained sentience.  Unwilling to be a violent tool of this rogue scientist, the Mechanid rebelled, killing the man.  Knowing the danger he was in, he fled to the outer colonies…which is where the rest of the group ran into them.

 

The nice thing about adding the new player was that he fit into the group well but not without some useful and interesting tension.  Much as we joked about it, we did not have a “you must be a good guy because you have ‘P’ floating over your head” moment.  In fact, there was a misunderstanding between the new character and the existing party that could have come to in character blows.  Both sides were good enough to smooth the issue with some in character discussion and reasoning.  So, by the end of the night, Dr. Napalm was integrated fully into the party and they were on the same path.

 

And then I did the data dump on the new player.  I sent him links to our forum, my Obsidian Portal page, Savage Worlds website and one of the Spelljammer fan sites since that is the inspiration for our campaign.  It’s far more information than anyone could reasonably be expected to learn.  And, honestly, it’s far more information than anyone could need.  In fact, I’ve been trickling the information out to my group for years now and every now and then, they say, or do, something to remind me that they have not read it.

 

But the new player seems excited and it was great getting some new blood in the mix.  I expect it to shake up our play style and path in a good way.  I full expect our good time to get better.

 

And here are the rules that we’re using for the Mechanid in my game:

 

Mechanids are the results of numerous experiments over the years to create cheap, loyal soldiers and servants.  Some are fairly unique, the singular results of a genius’ experiment, while others come from massive forge shops that churn out the same model again and again.  It is impossible (so far) to produce a Mechanid with all the information necessary to make them useful at creation.  Instead, they are bestowed with a modicum of intellect and the ability to learn.  This capacity to learn means that, assuming they are not destroyed first, a Mechanid invariably achieves sentience at some point or another.  This means that at some point, all Mechanids end up at the center of a legal quandary.  All Mechanids are owned by someone when they start their lives but it is illegal to keep a sentient being a slave unless they have broken some law.  When this first happened, there was a great deal of debate about whether or not a Mechanid could even become sentient and even more debate about what should be done once it was proven that they could.  In the end, a compromise was made.  When a Mechanid becomes sentient, he remains a contract slave to his owner, laboring until he has worked off the price that was paid for him.  After this time, he is treated as any other sentient being.  Mechanids have a wide variety of appearances.  They can be made of iron, brass, wood, cloth or any of a number of other materials and any number of combinations of materials.  Sometimes, the machinery that makes them move can be seen, but other times they show only smooth shells.  They all have eyes, though other facial features vary and shape, size and style of all these features can vary wildly.  Mechanids never appear organic.  They are always obviously machines.

Durable:  Due to their construction, Mechanids gain a +2 when attempting to recover from being Shaken and called shots do no additional damage to them.

No Metabolism:  Since they have no blood, Diseases and Poison do not affect Mechanids.

Outsider:  Mechanids are obviously not living creatures in the traditional sense.  It is not uncommon for people to treat them like machines and it is fairly common for people to treat them as second class citizens even when they recognize they are not automatons.

Cultures:  Mechanids have been created in every land for every purpose.  They can choose any culture.

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An Out of Body Experience

Disembodied Sentiences

With the exponential increase in data storage and processing speed, the possibility of people being able to upload their consciousness into a digital form.  There are any number of philosophical issues that arise with this possibility.  Would the copy be only a copy?  Would the original still experience death?  Would anyone ever even know?  I’m reminded of the end of the Prestige and all the questions it raised.

An entire campaign could revolve around those questions, depending on how deep you wanted to delve into them.  But even a more high level, light hearted campaign can feature a consciousness that no longer occupies its original corporeal form (besides ghosts, of course.)

And a campaign does not even have to be rooted in technology or science fiction for such characters to be a possibility.  The reverse of the old “sufficiently advanced technology is magic” rule is that magic can be substituted for any sufficiently advanced technology.

For example, instead of electrical impulses stored on…well, whatever modern storage devices use for material…a wizard could have his consciousness transferred into a magical book, gem, weapon, or even just his demesne.  Sort of like a Liche’s phylactery without necessarily all the evil associated with it.  And this sort of transfer could make for an interesting twist on the usual ghost story.  Perhaps the creepy old haunted mansion isn’t haunted in the traditional sense at all.  Instead of the spirit inhabiting it being a tormented soul who does not know it is dead, it is a completely rational soul who chose to transition to a more durable form than his frail body who simply does not appreciate uninvited guests.

Many of the philosophical issues become less prominent in this sort of campaign since the question of whether or not a being has a soul can be definitively answered and this soul is what is transferred into the storage object, leaving the corporeal body an empty husk in most cases.

Playing a truly disembodied sentience would be something of a challenge for any player.  While in most cases, the character should have some way to communicate with those around him, they would have no other way of interacting with the physical world.  It would take a really talented and dedicated player to take a role that was nothing more than advising the other characters.  Though, in a science fiction setting, they could potentially affect a network as a hacker.

 

A disembodied sentience would make an excellent NPC advisor to a party, however.  With an assortment of knowledge based skills, they would be able to provide information to the players and could be an excellent deus ex machina (semi-literally) for the DM to provide plot points and story guidance for the party.

 

Dr. Theopolis from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would be a good example of this sort of disembodied sentience.  In fact, the way the good doctor was carried around by Twiki is an excellent way for an NPC disembodied sentience to be carried around.  Whether or not the Twiki character would also be an NPC or a PC would be up to the players.

 

But this futuristic setting is not necessary.  A magical device could of similar design could be used to replicate the result.

 

Another option is for the disembodied sentience to have one or more physical forms that it can fuse with and animate.

 

Here are a few rules to run a Disembodied Sentience in a Savage Worlds campaign as well as a few edges that they can take.

Agility: NA Smarts: d12 Spirit: d10 Strength: NA  Vigor: NA

Skills: Knowledge (Varies): 1 at d12 +2, 1 at d12+1, 1 at d12, 2 at d10, 4 at d8,

Pace: NA Parry: NA Toughness: 12(4)

Special Abilities:

 

Bodiless: This Disembodied Sentience does not have a physical form beyond a head sized piece of equipment, whether high-tech or high-magic.  It has no way of interacting with the physical world so it has no Agility, Strength of Vigor score.

 

Tiny: As the Disembodied Sentience is the size of a human head, any attackers take a -2 when attempting to hit it.

 

Durable: This Disembodied Sentience is made of a rather sturdy material and, as such, has 4 points of armor.

 

Edges:

 

Modular Knowledge

Requirements: Disembodied Sentience

 

Whether miniature drives or knowledge crystals that can be slotted into a port, you are able to upload and utilize data that you don’t inherently know.  Each information source provides a Knowledge skill at d12, but only as long as it is slotted.  Once it is removed, that skill is no longer available (or is only available at its normal level, if it is a skill the player already possesses.)  Where and how these data sources are available is up to the GM.

 

This Edge can be taken multiple times.  Each time it is taken, another port is available, allowing the character to access another source of information at the same time.

 

Chassis

 

Requirements: Disembodied Sentience

 

You have a dedicated body that can carry around the mechanism housing your sentience.  This can vary from a simple framework robot, to a skeleton that can be animated to a near flesh form.  Of course, this body is not as adept as your former corporeal form (if you had one) and starts with only the following stats:

Agility: d6 Smarts: NA Spirit: NA Strength: d6  Vigor: d6

Skills: NA

Pace: 6 Parry: NA Toughness: 7

Special Abilities:

 

Framework: This is only a shell used to carry around a disembodied sentience and allow it to interact with the world.  It has the Smarts, Spirit and Skills of the Sentience it is hosting.  Parry is derived from the fighting skill of the Sentience.

 

Construct:  +2 Toughness, +2 to recover from being shaken.  Does not need to eat, drink or breathe.  Immune to Poison and Disease.  Takes no extra damage from called shots.

 

This Chassis has 3 wounds if the sentience utilizing it is a wildcard or 1 if it is an extra.  It can be upgraded through normal advancement by the sentience that utilizes it.

 

Multi body.

 

Requirements:  Disembodied Sentience, Chassis

 

Whether through encoded carrier beams or arcane resonance crystals, you are able to control more than one body at a time.  You are able to see and hear through each one as though you were actually inhabiting them and control them as normal, though you receive the normal multi-action penalty if more than one of them acts at a time.

All Chassis will use the below stats:

 

Agility: d6 Smarts: NA Spirit: NA Strength: d6  Vigor: d6

Skills: NA

Pace: 6 Parry: NA Toughness: 7

Special Abilities:

 

Framework: This is only a shell used to carry around a disembodied sentience and allow it to interact with the world.  It has the Smarts, Spirit and Skills of the Sentience it is hosting.  Parry is derived from the fighting skill of the Sentience.

 

Construct:  +2 Toughness, +2 to recover from being shaken.  Does not need to eat, drink or breathe.  Immune to Poison and Disease.  Takes no extra damage from called shots.

 

Note that one Chassis will be the primary.  It will have 3 wounds if the sentience utilizing it is a wildcard or 1 if it is an extra.  All other Chassis will have a single wound.  Each Chassis can be upgraded through normal advancement by the sentience that utilizes it but advances applied to one will not apply to any of the others.

 

Each additional purchase of this edge adds another Chassis that can be utilized.

 

Diffused Consciousness

 

Requirements: Disembodied Sentience

 

Through practice or design, you are better able to control multiple Chassis or systems at the same time.  Each time you take this Edge, you reduce the multi-action penalty incurred by using multiple Chassis or systems at the same time by 2.  This has no effect on multiple actions taken by a single Chassis

 

Central Intelligence Agent

 

Requirements: Disembodied Sentience

 

You are able to control many of the automated systems of a ship, building or other structure, whether in a high tech or fantasy setting.  Exactly what is automated in the vessel or structure depends on the object itself.  This could be anything from the piloting and navigation to weapons systems to automated repair functions and doors.  In any case, you can utilize one of your skills to perform a task.

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