Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mythos Space: Toves and Raths

Below are two creatures that player characters will encounter if they traverse to silvery void of Hyperspace.

Toves (Slimy Toves)
Type: Aberration
Size: Tiny (2-6’ tall, 6 lb.)
Intelligence: Animal (1-2)
Hit Dice: 0 (1-2 hp)
Movement: 30/150 (Climb 15, Swim 15)
Armor Class: 15
Attacks: Bite (1)
Saving Throws: F16, R16, W13
Special: Immunities (poison, disease, radiation)
Environment: Any
No. Appearing: 4d6
XP Value: 50 (CL 1)
"The toves covered the corridor ceiling, arm-long carapaces adhered by a foul-smelling secretion that oozed from between the sections of their exoskeletons." -Mongoose, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
Toves' are a species of extra-dimensional lifeform that are commonly found on starships that traverse Hyperspace and on space stations. These creatures look somewhat like a segmented eel with insectoid eyes and antennae, but completely lack ears. They are about the length of a human arm and continually secret a noxious ammonia-like slime. Toves are adapted to space, and can live virtually anywhere. They are immune to radiation, poison and disease, but are mostly harmless to anything larger than rodents. The biggest threat posed by Toves is that they ar pests who routinely eat up ship stores and foul the air. A single Tove can summon 1 additional tove per day, causing a significant increase over time. How they breed is unknown.
Occultist characters might take it into their head to have a Tove as a familiar. This is possible, but will be a bit gross, as these creatures ooze constantly. But for PCs with a tough stomach, tove familiars grant their masters a +2 to FORT saves.

Rath, Rover
Type: Aberration
Size: Small (3’ long, 37 lb.)
Intelligence: Animal (1-2)
Hit Dice: 1
Movement: 30/280
Armor Class: 14
Attacks: Bite (1d4)
Saving Throws: F14, R13, W15
Special: Immunities (poison, disease, radiation), Resistant to cold, regeneration.
Environment: Hyperspace, Any
No. Appearing: 1d2
XP Value: 70 (CL 2)

A 'Rath' is "a species of green, pig-like creature that lives primarily in hyperspace. They are a strange mix of rubbery flesh and shells and scales, seeming to be walking taxidermy experiments. However they are dangerous predators and should not be underestimated.
Raths are commonly found on starships that traverse Hyperspace and on space stations.
Raths are adapted to space, and can live virtually anywhere. They are the most common predators of Toves, and can be expected to "turn up" anywhere that a Tove colony of over 20 has taken up residence. Unfortunately, these creatures are not above preying on anything and everything that presents itself, including humans and gillies. Raths are immune to radiation, poison and disease and suffer only half damage from cold. These creatures are only partially corporeal, regenerating 1d4 points of damage automatically each round on their turn.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mythos Space: Home Campaign Basics

Time to put your thinking caps on!
It looks like I will be running a campaign for Grit and Vigor at my local library. So as to get as much bang out of my buck, I will be running a Mythos Space campaign.
The setting of Mythos Space is a pulp science fantasy campaign inspired by comics such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, and the Cosmic Horror stories of the Cthulhu Mythos*, and sci-fi movies and television shows from the 1950s and ‘60s such as Forbidden Planet, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and Captain Video. The focus is on fun, horror and excitement rather than scientific accuracy. Crazy retro gadgets, weird creatures, sexy alien princesses (or princes), and tentacled aliens are all par for the course.
Space travel, ray guns and mankind spread across the stars is common knowledge and considered "normal" as far as Joe Average is concerned. But so is the existence of mind-shattering alien horrors, Deep Ones, Snake-People and all manner of weirdness. But most people try very hard to get on with their lives despite this.
*This includes material from H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, C.S. Moore, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, and Fritz Leiber.

To read up on the setting, here is some material players can poke through:
The Empire of Tsan Chan (The Human Imperium).
Technology of the 51st Century (Part 1).
Space Battles (for Starships).
Bai Hu Sector (A region of space where the players will be poking around).

Making characters for Mythos Space is done in the same manner as standard character creation in Grit and Vigor. Most of the character options fit seamlessly into the setting. Even equipment and weapons is a possibility. Archaic weapons are available as well, as player characters will encounter primitive races in their travels. Below are some high tech weapons more in keeping with Atomic Rocket settings:

Ray Guns
Whether pistol or rifle, these tend to be bulky, ornate weapons with fins and strange bulbs, the barrels interrupted by disc-like protuberances. These come primarily in two varieties:
Laser Pistol, Mk 1: CAL 20, DMG 5d6, ROF 1, SHOTS 10 (Battery), RNG 300 ft, WT 2 lbs, Cost $50.00
Laser Rifle: CAL 50, DMG 6d6, ROF 2, SHOTS 10 (Battery), RNG 900 ft, WT 7 lbs, Cost $150.00

Humans predominate in the setting, but a number of other races are also available. Non-humans do not roll on the "Youthful Experience" chart at character creation, and can Dual Class if desired. Non-humans can multi-clas, but NOT dual-class.

"The Masters had ruled all space with an unconquerable iron fist. But the Masters were gone. And this new, young race who came now to take their place—could they hope to defeat the ancient Enemy of All?" -Masters of Space by Doc E.E. Smith and E.E. Evans
The human species of the 51st century are much like modern people, though distinct races are somewhat rare. Most people are of a Eurasian-Negroid race, similar in its appearance to the Ancient Egyptians. There are genetic holdouts here and there, with the more Asian looking peoples being seen as closer to the ruling caste of the Tsan-Chan Empire.
Culturally, mankind is as varied as they are in our universe, perhaps more-so. Within the Empire, the majority of mankind is thoroughly oppressed and frequently dehumanized to the point that any excuse to get out is taken, giving rise to a large number of energetic (and desperate) colonists.
Human player characters are created as standard player characters in Grit and Vigor. Within most corporations, and within Imperial Space, Humans are always considered full citizens. This doesnt mean that they recieve special treatment, but they do have full legal rights (if they have the money for legal aid).

"You don't know me, Mr. Cutler. You don't know anything about me. The thought that Dr. Link, my creator, my friend, is dead, saddens me to no end. And the thought that I may have killed him, even if by accident, is abhorrent to me. Do you understand? I do suffer. But unlike men, my face doesn't show my feelings. Now, please, leave me alone..." -Adam Link, The Outer Limits
Androids are sentient robots that resemble males, while gynoids are sentient robots that resemble females. They generally resemble streamlined, mechanical men and women though to what degree they are more mechanical or human is up to the player. Androids with a high charisma are assumed to be more finely made, possibly with polished exteriors or an Art Deco design aesthetic.
Robots and Androids tend to get muddled up in most peoples minds, though calling an Android a Robot is considered racist. Androids have rights as citizens more-or-less, but they often get treated as second-class at best. Android characters can often be found working in the oddest places, usually in dangerous or lonely positions such as miners, archivists and pilots.
Android or Gynoid characters modify their attributes as follows; Str +1, Con +1, Wis -1, Cha -1. They are constructs, and so are immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic magic, ability damage and drain and energy damage and drain. They do not need to eat, sleep or breathe. However they do not heal naturally but must be repaired using either the Electronics or Mechanics skill (GM's discretion), the results of which are the same as a Treat Injury roll. An electronics tool kit or mechanical tool kit are required. Androids suffer half damage from electricity, and have a natural armor class of 12. Androids and Gynoids can imbibe potions and receive the benefit of them.
Androids usually speak English and might know virtually any other language. They can advance to 8th level as Fighters, Scholars and Rogues.

"Some of 'em have queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, starry eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain't quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of the necks are all shriveled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young." -H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Gillies are humans with some degree of Deep One ancestry, but not enough to fully transform into a deep one. Alternately, maybe they would have transformed, but have been given genetic therapy to keep them mostly human; or the progression of their amphibious traits has slowed and they will not fully transform for decades to come. !ese characters may be partially or entirely covered with fine, flesh-colored fish scales that cause them to look exotic, though not necessarily ugly, or they may simply have the classic “Innsmouth Look” with somewhat bulging eyes and concealed gill slits in folds of skin on their neck. Some humans understand what these distinctive traits mean, and discrimination against these individuals is not uncommon.
Many Gillies can be found working as bio-technicians, Boojum tenders and colonists on watery worlds. Their familiarity and ever kinship with the technologies of the Old Ones make them excellent in these roles. For the most part, Gillies and even Deep Ones in the 51st century no longer worship Cthulhu, seeing him and the other Old Ones as overall threats to their own survival. The more religious of them usually revere the Elder Ones such as Bokrug or Yad-Thaddag.
Gillies are medium-sized creatures with a base speed of 30 feet. They are iron-thewed and rugged, and so add one point to their starting strength and constitution scores (max 18). Unfortunately, they are ugly and smell of fish, and suffer a two point penalty to their starting charisma score (min 3). All Gillies have a knack for swimming and suffer no penalties for operating in zero gravity.
Gillies are wonderfully observant, and enjoy a +2 bonus to all task checks involving sight. They can see up to 60 feet away in complete darkness.
Gillies speak English and Cthuloi. They might also speak Akkadian, Chinese, Dogon, Enochian, and any Austronesian or Papuan dialects. Gillies can advance in any class.

"For as he watched, Tu's face became strangely dim and unreal; the features mingled and merged in a seemingly impossible manner, Then, like a fading mask of fog, the face suddenly vanished and in its stead gaped and leered a monstrous serpent's head!" -Robert E. Howard, The Shadow Kingdom
The Ophidian Snakemen are an ancient, sorceress race that dwelt upon the Earth in ancient times, dating back to the Paleozoic era. They are snake-like humanoids, with scaly arms and a somewhat human-looking head. Lesser ophidians look somewhat more human (in bad light) that their sires and are incapable of reproducing. Many lesser ophidians will use a disguise or wear hoods to hide their true nature while among humans. Since they can often pass for human, they can often interact with humans without being noticed.
In the 51st century, the Snakemen are well integrated into human society. They have a long association with the Empire and are also well respected in the sciences. Not many people like them however, as they are a cold, hard-to-know people. And their reproductive cycle and eating habits are disturbing to other species.
Lesser Ophidians are medium-sized creatures with a base speed of 40 feet.
Lesser Ophidians are quick and graceful, adding one point to their starting dexterity score (max 18). Their lithe bodies and light frames, quick as they may be, are not particularly tough, so they lose one point from their starting constitution score (min 3).
Lesser Ophidians have darkvision to a range of 60 feet. They have a knack for search. They need only pass within 5 feet of small things to have a chance to notice them, even if they were not actively looking.
Lesser Ophidians receive a +1 natural bonus to Armor Class due to their scales. Lesser Ophidians have +1 save vs psychic powers. Finally, they have a +2 save vs poison.
Lesser Ophidians speak Common and Naacal. They might also speak Arabic, Chinese, Egyptian, Hellenic, Iranian and Vietnamese. Snakemen can advance in any class.

There are indeed a number of other species out there, but most are either rare on the fringe or SUPER WEIRD, and thus not good for player characters.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Space 1889: Aerial Vessels

The setting of Space 1889 wouldn't be the same without flying ships. In setting, these ships completely changed the outcome of numerous wars and skirmishes across the globe, and are supplying a greater rate of trade across numerous worlds. Once Britain and other world powers realized the potential of liftwood, the scramble to control this wondrous substance is an underlying theme throughout the setting.
Below are the vessels originally printed in the Space 1889 RPG, with stats for use with the Grit and Vigor RPG by John Stater.

Aerial Vessels and Combat
Aerial flyers, also called aerial gunboats or just flyers, are armed vessels held aloft by liftwood panels. liftwood is a tree native to the Martian highlands with unique anti-gravity properties. Aerial Vessel combat is handled as per the rules of Dogfights on page 78 of the Grit & Vigor rule-book. Vessels which can carry adventurers through the air of the differing worlds include:

British Steam Launch 
Gargantuan Construct
HD 30 (150 hp)
AC 12 (DR 5)
SPD 30
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR +2
CP 4/8
WT 50 tons
ARM 1 x heavy mg.
This is a small craft is popular with exploratory missions and adventurers. This vessel is quite popular among civilian and military, and can be found almost anywhere with only minor modifications. Though originally built by the British, American, French, German and Italian versions of this craft are common. It has accommodations for eight (4 crew, 4 passengers), and space for 5 tons of cargo and 20 tons of coal (40 days at cruising speed). Its armaments consist of a single Hotchkiss 5-Barrel Revolving Cannon* in the bow. Price: $4840.00
*Hotchkiss 5-Barrel Revolving Cannon: CAL 146, DMG 7d6, ROF 5, SHOTS 10 (Magazine), RNG 6000 ft., WT 200 lb

British APHID Class Aerial Gunboat 
Colossal Construct
HD 80 (400 hp)
AC 9 (DR 10)
SPD 14
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR -1
CP 15/0
WT 160 tons
ARM 1 x 4” gun, 2 x 4” guns, 2 x  heavy mg.
This is the smallest aerial gunboat in British service, and is also the most common. Each of these carries a crew of 15 and has an 20 days worth of fuel. It is armed with a 4-inch gun, two 5-Barrel Revolving Cannons*, and two 5-barrel might machine-guns. Price: None are for sale, but they cost the Royal Navy $23,220.00
*Hotchkiss 5-Barrel Revolving Cannon: CAL 146, DMG 7d6, ROF 5, SHOTS 10 (Magazine), RNG 6000 ft., WT 200 lb

Colossal Construct
HD 60 (300 hp)
AC 2 (DR 2)
SPD 70
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR -4
CP 35/100
WT 200
ARM Varies
Developed by the Germans but widely sold to powers which do not have reliable access to a supply of liftwood, the Zeppelin is a rigid airship held aloft by hydrogen. The Zeppelin has 20 days worth of fuel but burns only gasoline in its engines, and thus it can only refuel at German airship bases. Price: $20,000.00
Notes: When an airship (Zeppelin) is struck in combat, it must pass a saving throw or be punctured, losing altitude at its rate of climb.

Martian Cloudships
The Martians have been building cloudships for hundreds of years, although their design has changed little until quite recently. Most cloudships have traditionally been "kites", large sail-powered vessels which are fast but dependent on the wind for propulsion.

Martian Small Screw Galley 
Colossal Construct
HD 60 (300 hp)
AC 2 (DR 5)
SPD 60 mph
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR +3
CP 15/20
WT 200 tons
ARM 1x cannon, 2 x sweepers (treat as a blunderbuss)
Various small dispatch vessels and gunboats are used by Martian principalities: The Small Bird class is typical. It has a crew of less than 20 but carries substantial armament for its size. Unarmored small screw galleys are generally faster than the Small Bird.
Price: $10,000.00 to $15,000.00

Martian Large Screw Galley
Super-Colossal Construct
HD 98 (495 hp)
AC 2 (DR 5)
SPD 50 mph
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR +2
CP 60/0
WT 700 tons
ARM Ram (3d8), 2 x cannons, 1 x cannon perrier, 1 basilisk, 2 x bastard cannons.
Hullcutter Class screw galleys are typical of this size and type of vessel. They have a crew of 60 and are equipped with a ram bow and heavy ordinance. Price: $50,000.00+

Martian Small War Kite 
Colossal Construct
HD 70 (350 hp)
AC 5 (DR 5)
SPD 35 mph
Climb 90
Ceiling 14,000
MVR +1
CP 10/
WT 100 tons
ARM 2 x cannon royal
These small aerial sailing vessels carry a crew of 10. Price: $800.00

Martian Large War Kite 
Super Colossal Construct
HD 97 (485 hp)
AC 2 (DR 8)
SPD 24 mph
Climb 90
Ceiling 14,000
MVR +2
CP 40/0
WT 700 tons
ARM 1 x basilisk, 4 x cannon royal, 2 rockets (1-4"), 2 fire dispensers (treat as gelignite dispensers).
These powerful sailing vessels weigh up to 700 tons and have a crew of 40. They are equipped with a ram bow and heavy ordinance. Price: $60,000.00

Martian Merchant Kite
Tremendous Construct
HD 100 (500 hp)
AC 2
SPD 20
Climb 150
Ceiling 17,000
MVR -5
CP 50/0
WT 2000+ tons
ARM Varies
Merchant kites are quite large, usually upwards of 2000 tons. They require a crew of about 50 to operate the complicated rigging, and carry 1000 to 2000 tons of cargo. Price: $100,000.00

Friday, January 29, 2016

Space 1889: Grit and Vigor

Space 1889 is a Victorian era science fiction role playing game by Frank Chadwick that takes place in an alternate universe that more resembles the worlds of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs than it does our own. It a fun setting that I think needs to be looked at and developed a bit in my own special way. So I will be adapting it and some additional material for use in my home Grit and Vigor campaign. I will be detailing ships, settings, creatures and some material for my own campaign.
But first, an overview of the setting itself.

SPACE: 1889
In the universe of Space: 1889, Thomas Edison invents an "aether propeller" which could propel ships through the "luminiferous aether", and traveled to Mars in 1870 accompanied by Scottish soldier of fortune Jack Armstrong, where they discovered that the planet was inhabited (see Mars below).
Liftwood: One of the treasures that spurred the Europeans to Mars was "liftwood": a rare cultivated plant with anti-gravity properties that allowed for the construction of giant floating ships. While the Earthers used Martian sky galleons at first, they later constructed their own armored, steam powered flyers.
Aether Propellers and Aether Flyers: Though the æther propeller was invented by Edison, who obtained the first patent on an æther flyer. Scottish explorer, Jack Armstrong, later patented his own version of the æther propeller. Although not as efficient as Edison's design, the Armstrong æther propeller is used by all Royal Navy flyers and most British commercial flyers, as well.
In Germany, Count Zeppelin patented an æther propeller design, which is used by the German government for all its flyers, even though it is not as efficient as the Armstrong propeller. Additional competition from Tesla, Westinghouse, Behrend and others continue to drive down the cost of æther propeller's and make them readily available. And so the space race gets off to an early start in 1889.
Heliograph Stations: As radio has not yet been invented, orbital Heliograph stations transmit messages via semaphore. Britain and Germany own the majority of these.
Other Gadgets: The wonders of invention, both practicle and Pulpy are all possible in Space 1889, with inventors, chemists and industrialists taking on the role of wizards. Automatons, Invisibility Potions, Land Ironclads, Ray-guns, Supercrops and Tripods are all possible to name a few.
The basic setting introduction for Space 1889 can be downloaded for free here.

Mars is a dry planet crisscrossed by canals, bringing the scarce water of the polar caps to the dry seabed. Over the centuries, Martian civilization has declined from the great days of the Canal Builders and now exists at a level roughly equivalent to Earth in the 17th Century. Beginning in the 1870s, the colonial powers of Earth have used Ether-Flyers to extend their dominions to other planets.
There are three main racial grouping amongst the martian peoples. The High Martians, Hill Martians and the Canal Martians.
Canal Martians: The Canal Martians are the most advanced of the three Martian races, but their culture, though responsible for Mars' highest cultural and scientific achievements, has been in decline for millenia. The Canal Martians have been civilized for at least 35,000 years and are still consummate farmers, accomplished builders and skilled artisans. But they are obviously a culture in decline, as demonstrated by their inability to maintain the ancient technology of their forebears such as the canal pumping stations. The culture of the Canal Martians is stagnant and unchanging, their arts have become incomprehensibly baroque and degenerate, and their science is without the innovative spark that characterizes human intellectual activity.
Hill Martians: Nomadic by nature and less civilized than the Canal Martians (but more civilized than the High Martians), Hill Martians prefer the simple life of roaming the vast Martian deserts. Traders in spice, hand-made goods and livestock, the Hill Martians’ culture resembles the American Indians of the early 19th century.
High Martians: Of the three types of Martian, High Martians are least affected by civilization; they live in remote kraags and mountaintops, venturing out from time to time to capture slaves or to loot passing caravans. High Martians are like intelligent apes when compared to the Canal Martians, but with a difference: they can fly. High Martians (so called for their "altitude" rather than their accomplishments) never lost their lifting gland or its ability to carry them through the skies of Mars. Their behavior is bestial and barbaric in the extreme.
Colonialism: The most ambitious imperialist on Mars have been the British and the Belgians. Britain controls Syrtis Major, the richest city on Mars and is engaged with an ongoing war with the militaristic Oenotrian Empire. The Belgian Coprates Company conquered the great Coprates Rift Valley with an army of mercenaries and now ruthlessly exploits the region.
The most valuable resource on Mars is the incredible Liftwood tree. This plant grows only in the remote mountains, guarded by the savage, flying High Martians. When properly cut and cured, liftwood can be used to build ships that float in the air. Earth's Great Powers are scrambling to obtain supplies of liftwood, to keep up in the new aerial naval race that has begun.
America maintains several diplomatic missions on Mars, with a full Embassy in Thymiamata, a powerful trading city. Here it maintains inroads for American businesses and interests for US citizens. Many Americans are uncomfortable with the heavy-handed activities of the Belgians and (to a lesser extent) the British. However this is likely sour grapes on the part of more than a few US opportunists.

Venus is a hothouse world of shallow oceans, steaming tropical jungles, bogs, swamps, marshes, perpetual overcast, and heavy rainfall. The dense jungles of the Venusian lowlands produce numerous plants for which there is a great demand on Earth by chemists, dye makers, pharmaceutical companies, and florists (the Cytherian Orchid is especially valued for its beauty and its hauntingly subtle fragrance). The lowlands are also home to hundreds of varieties of giant reptilian creatures (dinosaurs), prodigeous insect life and to the savage Lizardmen. Humans find the lowlands almost unbearable and tend to stick to the few highland plateaus, where life is more tolerable and the sun can occasionally be glimpsed through the overcast.
Colonialism: Although expeditions were sent to Venus as early as 1873 (using British made Armstrong Flyers), the first one to return was the German-backed Heidelburg expedition of 1878. The Venusian magnetic field, it has been discovered, accelerates liftwood decay. Within days of landing, the first three expeditions found their flyers would not leave the ground. Germany, unable to obtain large quantities of Iiftwood, was forced to make use of dirigibles as the lifting means for their Ether Flyers. Germany has dominated the exploration of Venus since that time and maintains several colonies.
The British, Russians, and Italians have all set up colonies, but by far the largest European settlement is that of the German empire. It's capital, Venusstadt, is the largest and most civilized city on the planet -- the residence of the Governor and his family boasts an air conditioning system!

Mostly, as mankind spread out among the other planets, Luna remained of interest to only a few space mariners, and crazed Russian scientist, Vladimir Tereshkov, and rival American scientist Doctor Cyrus Grant. For a short time, the Russians maintained a secret mining settlement, enslaving the indigenous population, the Selenites, but were overthrown by the crew of HMAS Sovereign, with the help of Professor Nathanial Stone. At present the UK maintains an illegal research base on Luna, contravening the The Agreement Governing State Activities on Luna, which prevents any one nation setting up a presence on the moon. As a result there is much interest in Luna from the other major powers, but still the British Empire maintain control over the moon; a position precarious at best.

The innermost planet, Mercury, is a tidally locked world, with one side always facing the Sun, the other the void of outer space. Between the cold of the dark side and the heat of the light side, there is a narrow 100-mile wide temperate zone that circles the globe. All around the zone runs the World River, linking the various lakes and small seas, its flow driven by Coriolus effects. Along the river, exotic plant life and primitive shelled creatures (similar to those common on Earth during the Paleozoic Age) make their home.
Largely unexplored, there is only one permanent human settlement, a British scientific outpost named Princess Christiana Station, with less than a hundred residents. While molten tin and lead on the hot side of the planet and frozen fields of ammonia and carbon dioxide on the cold side are potential commercial products, the extremes of heat and cold have made exploitation impractical to date.
A recent scientific expedition to the dark side of Mercury has reported exotic life forms living in the extreme cold. Their body chemistry is based on ammonia, and the creatures catalogued included a primitive race vaguely resembling spiders or crabs. The expedition managed to establish communication with them, and they proved helpful in exploration of the area. It is also on Mercury that gravitar was discovered by Austrian geologists.

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan