Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Itropa: Campaign Setting

Itropa was a world I created for NeverWinter Nights, that I am adapting for pencil-and-paper sessions.  It uses D&D 4e rules, but everything is described differently in order to fit the setting.  I also might consider running it using Gamma World's ruleset sometimes.

Itropa is a cheesy sci-fi world. There is no magic in this universe, but there is a lot of B-movie science. All spells and magic abilities are reflavored as things like embedded weaponry, psychic powers, alien abilities, nanotechnology, genetic manipulation, radioactive mutations, and other bad sci-fi tropes. There are no gods in this universe, but some people still believe in them. The laws of physics work differently in this universe, and scientists made discoveries in a different order than they did in our world, which is why they can teleport but typically don't use cars.

Most of the races have been renamed and reflavored. Humans are the most common sapient race on the planet. Most of the other races are mutations of Humans. Some are natural mutations, others were bred by science for specific purposes. Some of the races are:

Evo (Elves): A few thousand years ago, scientists attempted to genetically enhance humans to make them faster, smarter, and healthier. They require less sleep than humans, have better vision, and have less body fat.  Some Evo consider themselves above normal Humans. Meanwhile, some Humans consider Evo to be egotistical know-it-alls. Wars have been fought over this.

Nuon (Eladrin): A continuation of the Evo project, the Nuons have the ability to teleport short distances.

Grunthian (Dwarf, Orc, Goliath): These mutants were created to be the perfect soldiers. They are typically stronger and/or hardier than humans.

Mil (Halfling): These were also created for war, but to be spies instead of soldiers.

Tink (Gnome): These were created as a college prank by drunken lab students.

Primal (Shifter, Were-creatures): The results of an experiment to speed up evolution.  In an effort to keep them from escaping, first-generation Primals were limited by an intentional flaw known as Vysine Contingency, which required them to use eye drops at least once a day or they would go blind.  However, this artificial deficiency turned out to be a recessive trait, and was bred out of later generations.  So of course they eventually escaped the labs and began living in the forests.  Some of them are more intelligent/sapient than others, but most of them tend to avoid technology.

Bot (Warforged): These are obviously robots. These machines are programmed with varying degrees of sentience/sapience, and have been designed for many different purposes.

Scallen (Dragonborn): This race is originally from another planet. A small number of them crashed on another continent a few generations ago, and have gradually been increasing in numbers. Their alien influence is part of the reason why the technology on this world is so eclectic.

Marae (Any Shapeshifting Build): These shapeshifters were the original inhabitants of Charta, before the Humans arrived and wiped them out. Despite their apparent extinction, survivors will occasionally show up from time to time, usually with an interesting backstory.

Kri'teth (Thri-Keen, other insect types) - This is a race of insect-like aliens. They visit Itropa every few decades, but have never set up a permanent civilization. They find the climate of Itropa to be survivable, but a bit too cool to be comfortable. A few Kri'teth have chosen to stay behind, and generally settle in desert areas.

The concept of "race" isn't really a social construct in Trasa (the starting town): everyone is unique, so you just are who you are. There has been a lot of interbreeding between the different types of mutants, resulting in Half-Evo, Half-Grunthians (Half-Orcs or Mul), and so on. Any races I haven't covered above would be rare, to the point that someone might have bred or built you with a very specific purpose in mind. Players are encouraged to be creative with their backgrounds.

The classes are also renamed. Actually you can call your class (or occupation, or whatever) anything you like, but here's the general guidelines:

Wizards (or other INT-based magic users) are typically scientists. They use a lot of unusual weaponry, and know how to create explosions using common elements they find in their environment. Instead of wands and orbs, they carry devices called "Widgets" that look like TV remotes or iPads. These gadgets have many uses, and are packed with apps like embedded weaponry or defensive shield controls. Some weapons can be used over and over (At-Will), others take a while to recharge or require additional chemicals to be inserted after each use (Encounter/Daily). Some scientists could also be reflavored as Cyborgs, with their weaponry embedded into their body itself. So instead of finding a new +2 Wand, we might say you found a +2 Upgrade Chip.

Sorcerers (or other CHA-based magic users) are usually psychics. They have powers like telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and the like. They might have been born with their powers, or they might have been added later. Their powers are controlled by their emotions, and some psychics have more control than others.  Some items are be designed to help them control and intensify their powers, so a +1 Wand might be a +1 Cerebral Enhancement Device.

CON-based Warlocks (or other CON-based magic users) are genetically enhanced or mutated. They use powers contained within their own bodies. Like a poisonous snake or the bombadier beetle, their bodies have built-in functions that most Humans don't have.

Clerics and other healers are basically doctorsThey can use several kinds of technologies to fix up their allies. Some healers use clouds of microscopic nanobots to seal wounds.  I already consider Hit Points to be more like stamina than health, so it's pretty easy to reflavor.  Instead of potions of Cure Light Wounds, we have Stim Tabs, which are basically caffeine pills.

Martial characters aren't much changed. Melee martial characters might be called Soldiers, Warriors or Mercenaries. They might use mechanically-enhanced melee weapons. A +1 Greataxe might be reflavored as something more like a chainsaw. Front line soldiers are often seen wielding "Aon-Blades", which can be superheated at the touch of a button. Rangers might be called Marksmen, Sharpshooters, or Snipers. Instead of crossbows and longbows, they use various types of guns. Some fire shards of metal, others fire bolts of energy, and so on. A Rogue might be a Spy or a Hacker or just a common Thief.

Most skills are the same. Arcana is Science, which relates to your knowledge of things like which chemical combinations make the prettiest explosions. Dungeoneering is now Engineering, which helps you understand mechanical systems. Thievery still allows you to pick pockets and locks, but it also encompasses hacking. Religion is now General Knowledge.

Gold is credits. There are no higher or lower denominations, since money is generally electronic. Instead of finding a pile of gold in a chest, you might find a datachip in a safe, with 543.7 credits saved on it.

I'm not going to put a lot of thought into Languages. For simplicity's sake, we'll still call the standard language "Common". There is a computer language called CODAL. The Scallen have their own language taking the place of Draconic. If your character gets a second language besides Common, feel free to change it to whatever language you like. Since there are no demons in this world, we really don't need things like Abyssal.

But in the end, most of the reflavoring is up to the player. When you're building your character, think about each power and how you're doing it. If the power says you do Burst 1 in 10 Fire damage, you decide exactly how you're you're going to describe it later. Did your Widget release a flaming ball of chemicals, which you then chucked like a jai alai ball? Or did the powers of your mind draw together all the dust in the area, igniting every atom right as you telekinetically tossed the flaming dustball at your foes? Or perhaps a pair sacs in your skin squirted a couple of chemicals that combusted when they mixed.

And if your Soldier's sword does cold damage, how exactly does it work? Is it super-cooled by some internal machinery? Or is it covered with tiny emitters that secrete a freon-like chemical? Or is it carved from some rare non-melting ice that stays as hard as steel? It might even look like a lightsaber, except instead of energy it's a contained column of hypercooled air.

There are plot holes and places where the mechanics don't make much sense. Some can be hand-waved, and some have multiple silly explanations. Why do people carry swords when there's laser guns? Maybe because melee weapons are more powerful and intimidating. Maybe because most people wear energy-dampening armor that absorbs lasers (if you miss the target's AC, maybe you could say it was actually hit but absorbed). Maybe guns just aren't as accurate or the ammunition is too expensive. In any event, if I get a science fact wrong or misuse a computer term, well, it's a different universe with different rules and terminology.

In any event, it's the kind of world where explanations are made up as needed, and new scientific laws are discovered all the time. It will obviously take a lot of suspension of disbelief, but with the right mindset it should be fun.

About the Setting:

Here's some additional information about the world. You don't need to read it, but if you're wanting more inspiration for your background, it might help.  This information is more for my own personal reference than anything else.

The planet is called Itropa. Our game takes place on a "new" continent called Charta. Technically Charta had a rich history going back thousands of years. However, the last war (known only as "The War" since it's the only war most people can remember) wiped out almost all life on the continent, and a massive EMP bomb also took care of most computer records. The continent is gradually being repopulated by immigrants from other lands, who don't know what to make of the remains of Charta's former society. It was a very short war, and news didn't travel to other continents during the war, so Charta's new citizens have been trying to put together the pieces using whatever evidence they can find. It's now been about 120 years since the War.

Most sessions will center around the hub town of Trasa, which is an unusual town because it has almost no middle-class citizens. Most Trasans are either very rich or very poor. This is primarily due to the BotCo company. It was founded about 10 years ago, and had a huge impact on the town. Gradually most of the town's labor became automated, and the economy still hasn't stabilized. The BotCo factory itself puts out radiation that requires nearby citizens to wear special suits. Trasa's mayor is in BotCo's pocket, so the company basically runs the town.

Cities and Locations in Charta:

Note that I'm using the same basic maps and towns that were in my Itropa mod, which I also used in my FR Praktas campaign. So if you've read a lot of my Praktas posts, some of this will sound familar. Call me lazy, but Praktas is dead, Itropa came first, and it's all just easier to remember this way.

These are not all the cities of Charta, just the largest and most well-known. Most of them are very far apart, but there are teleportation pads which allow fast travel. There is also a Magnarail that runs between some of them, which allows for fast travel when teleportation isn't an option.

Trasa - The starting town. The West side of town is mostly slums, and is also home to the BotCo factory. The East side of town is where the rich people live, and there is a wall separating the two sides. The city is surrounded by a wall on three sides, and a sea on the South. There are farmhouses on the outskirts. The streets are patrolled by robot guards. Laws are typically enforced by these GuardBots, but for real justice you'll probably have to go through the Bounty Hunter Guild. For this reason, justice is often thought of as a luxury in Trasa.

Trasa is a hub town, and does a lot of trade with the other towns.  There is a Magnarail connecting that runs from Trasa to Alta, and another rail that runs to Grunthar. Trasa is currently led by Mayor Tren Dellwood, but he is under the influence of large bribes from the BotCo company.  Trasa is home to many different races/mutant types, so nobody really looks at you strangely when you walk down the street. 

Grunthar - Far to the NorthWest of Trasa, there lies the harsh Gorvan Desert. In the center of the desert lies the town of Grunthar, inhabited by Grunthians. While it's still a harsh and brutal society, this group of warriors has given up on world domination for the moment, and lives in tentative peace with the rest of Charta.  They are currently ruled by the Grag Prime Arathnon, but they hold an annual tournament to determine the next Grag Prime.

Alta - Far North of Trasa, on the top of a large mountain, sits the beautiful city of Alta. Founded by Evo and Nuons, this city is filled with advanced technology and artistic architecture. Alta is ruled by Queen Wynnifred, an Evo. Alta is home to the Virtuoso College, where they teach some of the world's greatest musicians. Surrounding the base of Alta Mountain is a small community called Fertilund, populated by hard-working farmers who supply a lot of Alta's food.

Koramil Forest - Just North of Trasa, the Koramil Forest takes up a lot of the area between Trasa and Alta. It contains a few small communities of forest-dwelling folk. The treetop city of Kora is home to nature-loving hunters who don't mind technology, but tend not to use much of it. Some of them make a living hunting animals and selling the meat to the towns. The smaller community of Ynara is home to Yniri-worshipping extremists, who despise technology and hunting. They have been known to kill hunters and once even went to war with Kora. In one large forest clearing there's a small town called Milton, inhabited by Mil (Halflings) and a few Tinks (Gnomes).

Valos - A bit NorthEast of Alta, Valos started out as Alta's prison. After one huge revolt, the prison became a free town and the Altans are now afraid to go near it. The city is now ruled by the Inner Eye, a criminal organization.  The Inner Eye is led by Lord Vermon, who engineered the revolt.

Caoerovia - Far to the West of Trasa, this partially-submerged town was once home to the shapeshifting Marae. The empty town now lies in ruins.

The Wilds - Any areas that aren't within a city or claimed by an official government, are considered "The Wilds".   These areas are lawless, and often very dangerous.  For this reason, it's always safest to use city-to-city teleportation whenever possible.

World History:

Obviously I'm not going to write the entire history of this planet, but here's some of the more significant events. No one playing the game is expected to know any of this crap, in fact most characters probably wouldn't have even learned history in school. I'm just fleshing it out so I don't contradict myself if I have to refer to an event in the past.  There may be some contradictions here and there, but think of this as a historian's "best guess", since so many records have been lost in the many wars.

Civilization on Itropa started on the continent of Navora. Society rose and fell many times, often reaching heights of technology that still haven't been reached again today, before being destroyed by war or natural disasters. A little over 5000 years ago, there was a huge war ("The Navoran War") which devastated the continent, but led to a new era of peace. The survivors of the war divided the land into two countries, Korrollan and Aurenis. This is considered Year 1 on the Navoran calendar.

Major events by year (Navoran Calendar):

1 - Korrollan and Aurenis make a peace treaty. Smaller nations eventually grew up around them, but Korrollan and Aurenis remained the most prominent.

807 - Explorers from Navora start start taking ships to surrounding continents. Most are lost at sea, or find poor living conditions on the new lands. Exploration falls out of fashion, and for centuries Navora is thought to be the only habitable land on the planet.

1804 - Teleportation is invented. This is actually the third time in the planet's history that teleportation is invented, but this is the first time that the knowledge isn't later lost.  For now it is only safe to teleport inanimate objects.

1875 - Experiments with teleportation make a literal leap forward when Doctor Fleroy McKlellon attemps to teleport himself to another building across the street. Unfortunately he only manages to teleport his skin and a few organs. However, his sacrifice gives his assistants a lot of new data, and the first successful human teleportation is performed later that same year.

2045 - Biogeneticists create the first enhanced humans, called the Evo. Over the next few years, they also develop the Nuons a few other new species.

2109 - The Gene Wars begin, called such because Grunthians and other new species are bred to fight in the war.

2116 - The Gene Wars end. A new era of peace begins which lasts for nearly 3000 years.

2125 - Unable to find a place in Navoran society, most of the Grunthians leave the continent in search of a better place to live. They start a colony on Gorvana.

3206 - A spacecraft carrying around 6000 Scallen crashes on the uninhabited continent of Kalara. Survivors build colonies on the continent.

4901 - The Global War (now called "The Old War"). The nations of Navora go to war against Gorvana. The Scallen of Kalara join the battle when the Gorvanans attempt to use their continent as a base of operations. Gorvana destroys most of Navora, but they are nearly destroyed themselves in the process.

4912 - Survivors of the Global War start immigrating to Charta. They build a coastal city named "Fort Kaural".

4913 - New Chartans start killing and enslaving the Marae (the former inhabitants of the continent).

5323 (or 1) - The Chartan War (often just called "The War"). Starts as a disagreement over the treatment over the Marae. The war ends suddenly when a powerful weapon wipes out most life and technology on the continent. Some people start the calendar over at this point.

5325 (or 3) - More people start coming to Charta, build the city of Trasa over the rubble of Fort Kaural.

5432 (or 110) - BotCo Factory built in Trasa.

5442 (or 120) - The current year.


Although the setting generally only covers the continent of Charta and maybe some outlying islands, the planet of Itropa is actually made up of eight continents. Most of the societies on these lands were wiped out during various wars, and the survivors have been steadily streaming in to Charta, in search of useable land.

Short List:
Charta - Main setting
Navora - Humans and Evo/Nuon. Once great civilization.
Gorvana - Grunthians, Harsh environment, desert/mountains.
Ynillia - Thick forests.
Chirminon - Some Mil. Plains and forests, but large animals.
Exotera - Itropa's Orient.
Vhelra - Frozen wastes.
Kalara - Scallen. Desert, rock, mountains, etc.

Expanded List:

1. Charta - The continent on which the story takes place. Centuries ago, it was home to it was only home to one civilized race, the shapeshifting Marae. Then the Humans arrived, some harsh words were exchanged, and the fighting began. The Marae were wiped out (as far as most people know). Human culture and technology continued to advance. Pure humans began to have strained relations with the genetically-advanced Evo and Nuon people. This resulted in the Chartan War (a.k.a. "The War") which wiped out most of Charta's civilization 120 years ago. Recent immigrants have put a lot of effort into finding out what happened, but a lot of elements of the war remain a mystery.

2. Navora - The continent of Navora used to be home to many humans. It's two largest countries, Korrollan and Aurenis, were once the most technologically advanced domains on Itropa. Korrollan was the industrial capital of the world, full of bustling cities, exporting its goods to other civilized nations. Korrollan was also where genetic researchers first created the genetically enhanced races (Evo, Nuon, etc). Aurenis was a bit more traditional. Aurenis represented a balance of beauty and progress. It was filled with immense castles carved from the finest stone, inhabited by artists, writers, and musicians. Korrollan and Aurenis united during the Global War (a.k.a. "The Old War"), to defend themselves from the conquering nations of Gorvana. They lost this war; due in part to the corrupt government of Korrollan, who secretly sold weapons to Gorvana even while waging war against them.

3. Gorvana - The Grunthians were originally bred as soldiers in Navora, but could not find a place in society during peacetime. Unable to fit in, they moved to Gorvana and built their own society. Gorvana is a hot, harsh continent, almost entirely desert. It is uninhabitable to all but the hardiest of people. Gorvana is divided into two countries, Kragunthor and Ruwathuka, both of which are now decimated wastelands due to The Old War. The alliance of Kragunthor and Ruwathuka is actually what led to the Old War, as they joined for the sole purpose of world domination. This union was terminated near the end of the war, when they disagreed about the use of human slaves. Once they turned on each other, the Old War was over, as they destroyed each other in the process.

4. Ynillia - To outsiders, the forest-covered continent of Ynillia would not have even appeared to be civilized. It was populated entirely by primitive humans, who lived in harmony with nature and never developed any sort of technology. During the Old War, many of the forests of Ynillia were burned down by Grunthians, who took the inhabitants for slaves.

5. Chirminon - Less is known about Chirminon. It is a small continent filled with beautiful plains and forests, but it has never been civilized because of the indigenous life forms. It is inhabited by large, dangerous reptiles. Some Mil and Tinks set up some small communities in the safer areas, but they later regretted it.

6. Exotera - This is the farthest continent from Charta, and the only civilized nation not to be involved in the Old War. It still stands today, but due to its distance, very few citizens of Exotera have immigrated to Charta. The citizens of Exotera are very traditional, and have little use for technology. The few Exoterans to settle in other countries usually do so out of the pursuit for knowledge and enlightenment.

7. Vhelra - This is a frozen wasteland, with no civilization whatsoever. It is a very harsh climate, with freezing temperatures and powerful snowstorms. Some animal life might exist there, and there are some rumors of "wild men" and even stories of extraterrestrial landing sites. But few explorers have come back from Vhelra alive, so there has been nothing to confirm any of these possibilities.

8. Kalara - This is another harsh land. It is made up of desert and rock, with mountains and canyons but very little vegetation. There is some animal life, mostly in the form of reptiles and insects, but no civilization. Approximately 2000 years ago, the Scallen (Dragonborn) crashed on this continent and began building a society for themselves. They built one major city, Kalos, but it was mostly destroyed during the Global War.


While religion isn't very widespread on Itropa, there are some people who believe in a higher power. If you play a religious character, you won't get any extra benefit from praying, since there are no actual gods in this universe. But it still could be fun to play a character who erroneously believes his mutant abilities come from a higher power. Five religions in particular stand out (listed below), but feel free to make up any diety you like.

Norgalla - Followers of Norgalla believe that this magical healer lived thousands of years ago, and brought peace to warring nations. They believe he protected the world from Ris Kiree the Destroyer, and the two are locked in an eternal battle that continues to this day. Disciples are expected to be wise and studious, and to seek peaceful solutions to their problems.

Ris Kiree - The ancient enemy of Norgalla, Ris Kiree is believed to have been the most powerful warrior in history. It is said he defeated Death himself in a swordfight, and is now using his immortality to fight his eternal battle against Norgalla. Followers are not necessarily evil, they just generally believe that might equals right. Followers are encouraged to seek power whenever possible.

Chikar - This extraterrestrial isn't thought of as a "god" exactly, so much as an alien with godlike abilities. Chikar is believed to live on a far away planet, where he watches all the worlds and tries to guide them for the betterment of of the universe. It is said that he has visited Itropa many times throughout history, and that he steered the world's development by teaching the ancient people new technology. Some people even believe he built the planets themselves, and bio-engineered the first lifeforms. Followers of Chikar are splintered in their beliefs. Some believe that progress is the route to gaining Chikar's approval, since he has guided the world's advancement in the past. Others believe progress is to be avoided, because if Chikar wants us to evolve further, he'll visit again with more teachings. Most followers of Chikar believe that he will return right before Itropa is destroyed, and take his most beloved back to the safety of his homeworld.

Yniri - Basically "Mother Nature". She is believed to be a goddess who inhabits the forest. Her followers are forest-dwelling nature-loving vegetarians. They hate hunters, and will try to protect the forest from those who kill animals. Yniri worshippers believe all life is precious, so of course extreme believers have been known to violently kill hunters on sight. But most Yniri worshippers are better than that.

Talo-Ka - A dragon-like goddess worshipped by some of the Scallen (Dragonborn) race. Talo-Ka worshippers love fire, and often burn animals as a sacrifice to their goddess. Some Talo-Ka worshippers consider non-Scallen to be just as low as animals, and have no compunctions about taking human life as a gift to their goddess. For this reason, Talo-Ka is often seen as an evil. However, this does have to be the case, and you could easily roleplay a Talo-Ka worshipper who is ashamed of how the religion has been twisted by some of its followers.


I mostly try to keep technological limits undefined in order to allow for creativity and future surprises. In most parts of the world, ancient technology is actually more advanced than modern technology, and salvaged parts are often sought to repair existing devices. Individual scientists are constantly rediscovering old inventions, but they rarely share their findings. Instead, they make themselves more valuable by hoarding information and using their knowledge for profit. Science is not usually taught in general schools, though there are some colleges in Alta that teach it.

Teleportation - Instantaneous matter transference was discovered early on, and greatly affected the order in which things were invented. It's still not available in all situations, though. Long distance teleportation uses a lot of energy, and usually requires both a source pad and a destination pad. It's also dangerous to tp if you can't see your destination, or you might end up fused to an object. So while you can teleport from one town to another, it's much harder to tp into an uncivilized area. Even with town-to-town tp, you might have to deal with local restrictions. Some pads are built by the government, others by private operators. It might cost money, and there might be laws that limit your destinations. Alta, for example, has a draconian list of requirements people must meet to enter their city.

Short distance teleportation is a lot easier and more common, and many people carry personal devices that allow them to tp smaller distances.

Vehicles - Teleportation was invented before the internal combustion engine, which is why vehicles are rare in Itropa. There just didn't seem to be much point in perfecting vehicles. There are no companies mass-producing vehicles, but people who know how will sometimes build their own. There is a large magnetic rail, called the MagnaRail, running between some of the major cities. Some vehicles will use these when teleportation isn't an option, such as when delicate cargo is involved.

Space Travel - None so far. While Itropa has had visitors from other planets in the past, no Itropan government has had a formal space program. Some individual scientist have tried to send up small satellites, but with little success.

Weapons - Some weapons fire lazers. Not lasers, lazers. In the real world, "LASER" stands for Light Amplificiation by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. But on Itropa, LAZER stands for Lethally Amplified Zapping Energy Rays.

Elements - Itropa has several elements and materials which don't exist in our universe, and their properties have made a significant difference in what technology was possible.  A few elements of note:

Virtrinium is a very tough metal, but very expensive. Items made from virtrinium are nearly indestructible.

Levinium is an element used in the creation of artificial gravity, as well as many other devices that push or pull. When levinium is given a positive charge, it gives off levaton particles, which causes it to push away other objects. When given a negative charge, it attracts levaton particles, making it useful for tractor beams and such.

Aonite is a metal which conducts various types of energy very easily without melting. It is often used in Aon-swords, which might be superheated or electric.

Ducton is pretty much the opposite of Aonite - it barely conducts any energy at all. This is often used to make the hilt of Aon-swords, preventing the 1000 degree blade from burning the wielder's hand.

Denium is a very tough rock with the consistency of cotton. It can be spun into a coarse cloth, which can be used to make rugged, durable jeans.

Muuvmium is the basis for teleportation technology. When muuvmium particles are exposed to specific electric currents, they trade places with other muuvmium particles elsewhere in the universe, taking adjacent atoms with them. The distance and direction of the teleportation can be controlled by using specific electric patterns, but experiments with muuvmium are still very dangerous.

MacGuffium is a very dense type of carbon. Over time it can be compressed into a very rare, very valuable gemstone. MacGuffium Jewels are sought by rich people everywhere.  As I mentioned earlier, I really don't expect any of my players to read this far. But I do like players who show interest, so I'll tell you what - if any of my players are reading this paragraph, you're in for a treat. Next time I run a session, the first player to use the phrase "Purple Monkey Dishwasher" will receive a special item.


Most civilized Itropans use the Gygaxian measurement system.  This includes a unit of length called "squares" (approximately five feet) and a unit of time called "rounds" (approximately six seconds).  Some people have tried to introduce what they believe to be a better system of measurement involving something called "hexes", but nobody really takes them seriously.


I'll keep this section small. The world is undefined enough that pretty much anything I decide to pull from the Monster Manual will work, with some reflavoring.

Chetal - A large mountain cat with scales instead of fur. These are naturally-occurring animals, indigenous to Charta.

Gnants - Tiny termite-like insects. Gnants are generally harmless, except for the times they wander through a radiation cloud that causes them to grow to giant size, which probably happens more often than it should.

Gravo - A flying shark. They are usually found in coastal areas, because they need to spend some time in saltwater to survive. These were created as a weapon, which in retrospect may have been a bad idea. Some have escaped and bred in the wild. Actually, an unusually large number of Itropa's more exotic monsters are things that escaped from genetics labs. You would think that such a technologically advanced society could build better locks.

Kipa - A reptile sometimes used as mounts. Kipa have a body shape slightly reminiscent of an ostrich, but larger. They can run very fast for long periods of time. They have an anteater-like tongue which they use to eat gnants and other small insects. Kipa originated on the continent of Chirminon, but have since been exported to other lands.

Megalepus - A large rabbit, about the size of a wolf.  They are much more vicious than ordinary rabbits, and people sometimes train them as attack animals.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gamma World: Piiiiiiigs In Spaaaaaacesuits

Game Date: 1/22/2011
DM: Rusty

The Party (Level 1):

Bryan -Plaguebearer / Mythic
Jesse - Exploding / Yeti
Leigha - Mythic / Plastic
Matt -  Gravity Controller / Mind Coercer
Ted - Telekinetic / Mind Coercer
D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game: A D&D Genre Setting (4th Edition D&D)

Pre-Game Thoughts:
As I write this paragraph, it's still a couple of hours before gametime.  This will be my first time playing Gamma World.  It's a quirky sci-fi setting that uses a simplified version of D&D 4e's rules.  We're also going to use the expansion pack, Famine in Far-Go. I've been wanting to try Gamma World for a while.  I'm thinking about running a few sessions that take place in a modified version of my Itropa universe.  I was going to use a reflavored version of normal D&D 4e, but Gamma World could be the perfect ruleset to use.

The Game:
Rolling up our characters took a little while, but only because some of us hadn't played Gamma World before.  Now that I know the rules, I could probably roll one up in 5 minutes.

We played a Gameday module titled "Trouble in Freesboro."  Mayor Thomspoon hired our strange group to investigate some unusual sightings at the PungCo Laboratory.  Witnesses had reported explosions, flashing lights, and large flying insects. 

On the way to the lab, we were attacked by five Porkers (pig people) and a swarm of Bloodbirds.  This was our first chance to try out the combat system.  It felt a lot like playing D&D 4e, with a few notable (and mostly welcome) differences.  Second Wind is a minor action, and heals half your hit points.  There's no healing surges to keep track of.  After the battle, your short rest refills all your hit points.  And then there's the cards... the Alpha Tech and Omega Tech cards give you extra powers or defenses, and they get switched out at different times.  It adds a bit of chaos to the battles.

After we won the encounter, we continued to the lab.  One of us had a crowbar (inventory items are also random, and sometimes very unusual), and used it to break into the building.  On the ground floor, we found a computer, and managed to get it working.  The DM's booklet actually had links to a supplemental website which let us view the security video from the parking garage.  We also managed to access a map of the building, and an e-mail giving us more background info for the story.  I was very impressed by this level of interaction.

We found the stairs and went up to the second floor, where we fought five hovering robots.  Then we continued on to the third floor.  The final encounter took place in a large lab, where a large chamber showed us images of other locations.  We fought three Porker Marauders, one Hoop (rabbit guy), and one Dabber (badger guy).  They were lead by a warthog in a spacesuit, named Ghengis Tangh.

Being the final battle, it was pretty difficult.  There were three cannons on the walls, which could be turned on using the computer terminals.  The bad guys got one working, and our party turned on another one, with the help of some "Dehydrated Scientists" we'd picked up.  This turned out to be a mistake, because once activated, the cannons just fired at the nearest creature, regardless of who activated the cannon.

One of us had a card with some sort of vortex power, which pulled most of the enemies to the center of the room for easier killing.  Another player had a card that let him mimic other cards, so we actually got to use the vortex power twice.  At one point in the battle, Tangh entered the chamber, which teleported him out of the battle.  He returned a few rounds later, looking a bit roughed up.  One of our party tried the chamber as well, and found herself on another planet.  We all survived the battle, but two of us nearly died.

Having discovered the reason for the disturbances, we ended the session. 

Gamma World is not a very deep system, but I love it.  I think it would work best for one-shots and short campaigns.  Some of the players want to try optimizing our characters next time, instead of rolling them up randomly.  Personally I don't think the game would work well that way.  Unlike the uber-balanced D&D 4e, some origins in Gamma World are clearly better than others, and the randomness of rolling up your character - and then living with the outcome - is part of the challenge.  But I'll be glad to try it if that's what the players want to do.

As I mentioned above, I've been working on a module or two, based on the Itropa setting I created for NeverWinter Nights.  Itropa is also a "B-movie sci-fi" type of world, and it could work well with Gamma World's rules.  However, I'm also considering just using D&D 4e, and reflavoring everything to fit a sci-fi universe.  I'm going to have to give it some thought.  Gamma World is more light-hearted, and its simplicity makes it perfect for what I have in mind.  But D&D has a more robust Monster Manual, which might not be exactly what I need flavor-wise, but I can easily convert flavor.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Artifact Hunters: Minecart Mayhem

Game Date: 1/15/2011
DM: Nick

The Party (Level 5):

Anna Bella (Leigha) - Halfling Monk
Gavil Pontiff (Ted) - Eladrin Wizard
Marek the Silver (Rusty) - Dragonborn Paladin
Morigan McBane (Jesse) - Human Artificer
Talindra Seryth (Matt) - Razorclaw Shifter Avenger

The Session:
We took an  extended rest inside the Mining Authority building.  As we were getting ready to leave, we heard some voices outside the door.  Someone was planning to attack and rob us.  We briefly debated on whether to burst through the door and attack, or attempt a little diplomacy.  Just for the heck of it, we decided to try talking to them.

We opened the door to see a Hill Giant, an Airsoul Genasi Sky Spy, and two Watersoul Genasi Hydromancers.  They were not to be reasoned with, so we fought.  Once the Hill Giant and the Sky Spy were bloodied, Marek attempted to Intimidate them into surrendering.  He rolled a 20, and with an Intimidate bonus of something like 15, he successfully caused them to flee.  The Hydromancers, on the other hand, fought to the death, and it was still a fairly significant encounter.  Their "Whirling Vortex" power was fairly potent, and the power recharged often.  Talk about your hard water!  *ducks*

Nick told me later that behind the screen, the fleeing Sky Spy kept trying to convince the Hill Giant to turn around and rejoin the battle.  But the Spy kept rolling low numbers, and couldn't talk him into it.

After the battle, our guide, Manganese, gave us a theory on the movement of nearby Earthmotes.  They appeared to be going in a circular pattern similar to that of water going down a drain.  Manganese explained that the center of the "drain" would mostly likely be an Earthnode we needed to find.  Morigan quickly did some impressive computations to figure out where the Earthnode would be, based on the locations of the Earthmotes and the directions they were moving.  But then Manganese pulled out a map, which already had the location on it.

Our destination turned out to be a hole in the ground.  After a bit of debate on how best to climb down into it, we found ourselves in a mine.  We saw several mine carts and a track.  We had two tunnels to choose from, and chose the one on the right.  Ever the brave adventurer, Morigan was the first to climb into a cart and shoot off down the track, while the rest of us stood around going, "Is this a good idea?"

Next we sent in Gavil's scathebeast mount/familiar George, to go along the walls and telepathically tell Gavil what it saw.  But George is pretty slow, so we finally decided to get in our own carts and follow Morrigan.

There were several skill checks to stay in the carts while they went around sharp turns at high speeds.  Tal and Anna fell out early on, but landed near each other.  Morigan and Marek also fell out of their carts near each other, but much farther down the tunnel.  Gavil was the only one to successfully ride the cart all the way.  Near the end of the track, she saw her cart about to hit some spikes protruding from the wall, so she used Fey Step to exit the cart.  When she saw the other carts were empty, she sat down and waited for us.

Tal and Anna (or as I like to call them, "Team T&A") found themselves in a 10-foot wide tunnel.  They began walking.  Soon they saw a mace floating in the air, and thanks to a couple of failed Perception checks, they didn't see why.  Anna tried to grab the mace, and was sucked into a Gelatinous Cube.

Simultaneously, but much farther down the tunnel, Marek and Morigan ("Team M&M") climbed back up to the track.  They hoped to use the track to avoid any encounters in the tunnel below, using their rope in ways I still don't entirely understand to speed up their trip.  In a little while they came across some Ochre Jelly, and fought it.

Meanwhile, Gavil built a fire.

Anna broke free of her Gelatinous Cube and moved away, but the Cube was still blocking our path.  Tal hit it with Sequestering Strike, which teleported the Cube behind them.  Unfortunately, the power also makes Tal teleport to an adjacent square, so she still had to end her turn next to the Cube.  On the Cube's turn, it engulfed Tal.

Marek and Morigan continued to fight the Ochre Jelly, which split into two Jellies once it was bloodied.  But the two Jellies were still 2x2 monsters (might want to look that up) in a 10-foot wide tunnel, so M&M only had to fight one of them at a time.

Meanwhile, Gavil made some tea.

Tal finally managed to escape the Cube and move away from it on the same turn.  Now that T&A were both on the the right side of the cube, they simply outran the slow-moving monster.  M&M killed both of their Jellies, and continued down the tunnel.  The four of us eventually reached Gavil, and we all enjoyed some tea.

Soon the sounds of our reunion attracted a bunch of bugs.  Two giant Tangler Beetles, two Bug Swarms, and 2 Fire Beetles.  It was a small room, without a lot of space for movement. However, we all knew we were going to do an extended rest after this battle, so we let loose with our best dailies.  We had three overlapping zones going on, covering most of the room and giving the enemies all sorts of status effects.  Marek Divine Challenged everybody, so they all had to stay in the zones to attack him.  Everyone who had burst attacks used them on the swarms as often as possible.  Some of the enemies had some nasty attacks, especially the swarms, but our powerful tactics exterminated them pretty quickly.

After the battle, we took an extended rest, and ended the session for the night.

There is no Artifact Hunters game for the next two Saturdays.  On the 22nd we will be playing Gamma World while Nick gets drunk at a beer festival.  So far there's no game at all on the 29th, as Rusty will be out of town.  Our next Artifact Hunters session should be on 2/5.

Obsidian Portal Entry

836 gp (from the hill Giant/Genasi marauders in Cimbar)
400 gp (8lb chunk of gold in beetle room)
750 sp (15lb chunk of silver in Beetle room)
Total: 1311 gp; Each: 262 gp, 2 sp

1800 (Hill Giant and posse)
750 (mine Cart attacks)
400 Gelatinous Cube
300 Ochre Jelly
1300 Beetles
Total: 4550 xp; Each:910 xp

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Artifact Hunters: Embracing Your Inner Dwarf

Game Date: 1/8/2011
DM: Nick

The Party (Level 5):

Amarat; a.k.a. Tam (Tamara) - Elf Rogue
Gavil Pontiff (Ted) - Eladrin Wizard
Marek the Silver (Rusty) - Dragonborn Paladin
Morigan McBane (Jesse) - Human Artificer
Talindra Seryth (Matt) - Razorclaw Shifter Avenger

Our Monk couldn't make it this week, so the encounters took a little longer than they otherwise would have. She was definitely missed. Ted has informed me that I've been spelling "Gavil" wrong all this time (though it's still pronounced "Guh-VALE").

The Session:
We arrived in Cimbar and found the shop of Feril Biliken. As we were looking for some clues in the ruined shop, we encountered a Sword Wraith in the basement. There was a large crevasse upstairs which made things interesting. A couple of party members stayed upstairs and shot down through the hole, while the rest of us fought the Wraith in person downstairs. At one point the Wraith flew upwards through the hole and attacked the upstairs party members, forcing those of us downstairs to switch to ranged attacks.

Once we found what we needed in the shop, we had to find the old Mining Authority, to look up some records. Morigan took point in investigating the badly decaying building. She soon encountered a pair of Dwarven Ghost Legionnaires, and was quickly dominated by one of them. The rest of us entered the site, unaware that our Artificer was possessed. Morigan attacked Marek. Amarat tried to come to his aid, but fell down a hole into the building's lower level. Tal wasted no time in attacking Morigan, while Gavil kept her distance to fire off some spells.

Once Marek dropped Morigan, the Dwarf Ghost left her body and began attacking Marek. The other Dwarf Ghost then dominated Tal, but thanks to a saving throw granted by Marek, Tal was free before her turn came up again. On Tal's turn, she immediately shoved a healing potion down Morigan's throat. The other party members asked her why she was so quick to help Morigan, who had been attacking the party. Tal answered, "I know what it's like to have a Dwarf inside you." (Having spent much of her life sequestered from society, Tal doesn't get the concept of double entendres.)

Amarat looked around the lower level, then climbed the stairs and was stuck at a locked door for a few rounds. Marek's squire Sleepy distributed some healing potions to keep the party alive, until he heard Amarat knocking at the door. The squire bashed open the door and Amarat rejoined the battle. Gavil used a sleep spell which hurt the party as much as the enemies. When we finally dropped one of the Ghosts, they both died simultaneously.

Downstairs, Marek fell into a pit and we were attacked by a pair of Wailing Ghosts. They had a scream which knocked each of us back several squares and immobilized us. This made it a difficult battle for the melee types. Amarat got pushed around the corner, keeping her out of the battle entirely until she could make her saving throw (which took a while). But eventually we defeated them, explored the rest of the building, and called it a night.

Obsidian Portal Entry

1544 gp
1822 gp in Rare Books
400 gp (8 lbs of gold nuggets)
(above totals 3766 gp total, 627 gp each)
3 vials of Dark Toxin Poison
+2 Drakescale Armor of Resistance: Necrotic (lvl7, Marek)
Resplendent Gloves (lvl5, Gavail)
Shield of Protection (lvl 3, Marek)

7000 total, 1400 each.
Current PC XP: 6,900