Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Wardens of the Endless Tower

And here is our sixth and final proposal for our Big Next Game. This one comes courtesy of Joe N., our newest player. It has a distinct Encounter Critical vibe...

The Third Human Galactic Empire chose the planet Aussie as their prison planet due to the violent electromagnetic storms that prevents any direct landing of starships. They instead dropped a space elevator to the surface and used it to populate the planet with the Empire ‘s prisoners for centuries. Each term was for life, and eventually specialized camps were set up at various locations by type of prisoner (POW, political prisoners, organized crime, drug offenses, violent crime, confidence games and fraud, the criminally insane, etc.).

The Empire fell into anarchy and eventually shipments of supply and personel to the prison ceased. The staff abandoned the satellite at the top of the space elevator and retreated to the surface. Centuries passed and memories of the Empire and its technology faded. Eventualy each camp formed its own nation reflecting the personality of the original prisoners. Loose planet-wide control is enforced by a mystical sect called the Wardens who operate from their headquarters, the Endless Tower. One of the goals of the Wardens is to encourage the technological devolution of the nation-camps in order to maintain control.

The players characters are members of a competing secret organization, known as the Trustees, who have tried through myth and legend to keep the memory of the Empire by encouraging the spread of outlaw technology. Recently they believe that they have discovered signs in the stars and from the holy records that a great burning is coming (i.e. the star going super nova at some point soon, say 10 years). The characters have been recruited into the Trustees (from the different nation-camps? fallen wardens? alien natives?) to find away to seize the Endless Tower from the Wardens and lead an exodus from the planet before it is destroyed. Possible missions include reclaiming ancient technology or forming alliances against the Wardens. The tech level starts out low and then increases slowly as the characters re-discover more of the original tech. Home base could be the monestary of the Trustees hidden deep in one of the mountain ranges on the planet. Kind of like Thundarr the Barbarian meets Chronicles of Riddick via David Weber.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

DC Gameday XIII: The Masks of Silverlode

Registration for DC Gameday is open. I'm running "The Masks of Silverlode", a Golden Age supers game on Sunday morning, October 13th. [UPDATE: And we're full].

Silverlode, the Metropolis of the Mountain West. Incorporated on the first day of the 20th Century as an iconic western boom town, the Silver City has always embodied the American spirit of the age. And that spirit of heroic optimism is now manifesting in the world's first costumed adventurers. As the city rises up from the depths of the Great Depression and with the world poised on the brink of another Great War, the Masks of Silverlode boldly stand ready to fight for justice and usher in a new Golden Age. 

Join me for a Fate Core superhero game inspired by Astro City, Watchmen, and the classics of the Golden Age of comics. Characters will be provided, and no prior knowledge of the system is necessary.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prison Planet

As we've already had a round of voting, here is the fifth of our six proposals for the next big game. This one comes courtesy of Chris at Boring, Absurd, and Contemptible.

Dunas is a penal colony of the Galactic Empire. All sorts of criminals from all ends of the galaxy get sent there: from cold-blooded killers to political opposition to lousy poets to tenant farmers who fell in to debt. It's a great place for a penal colony since it can support agriculture and also has a wealth of minerals to ship off. Also, its highly charged ionosphere makes it impossible to get on or off except via the space elevator that connects to a single space port. While there is a contingent of government officials, the planet is run by the prisoners. A small garrison only has to protect the space port, and the number of prisoners on planet at any given time is tightly regulated.


Firefly, Star Wars, any dystopian Australia's criminal history, this Venezuelan prison: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/06/11/190392074/inmates-in-a-venezuelan-prison-build-a-world-of-their-own


Anyone of any species that is condemned to live on this rock.

What's interesting

A contained setting with several different zones: spaceport, cities, towns, wilderness, and underground. There could be ruins of a previous civilization and interesting local fauna that eats you. Lots of bad guys, but lots of misfits basically running themselves.

How it ends

Not sure yet, but there are lots of ways to wrap up a campaign - from escape to independence to an impending supernova. We could figure something out...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Space Elevator

The fourth of the six settings that we are considering for our next game is the one that spawned our space elevator fixation…

The early 21st century is the era of billionaire vanity projects to change the world -- Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk and Tesla, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and the self-driving car.  And Corey Makarev and the Space Elevator.


The elevator is being built just off the coast of a small Pacific island nation which has either contracted Makarev to construct and ambitious megaproject to make them relevant in the global economy or has been completely suborned by his money into doing his bidding, depending on who you ask.  Plot hooks can involve technical problems, rival megacorps, annoyed superpowers, locals who don't like their government being in bed with a megacorp, terrorists, environmental activists, shady contractors, labor disputes, unruly tourists, obnoxious VIP visitors, and the ever-popular budget crises.

I see Season 1 as completing the elevator, with subsequent seasons involving keeping the whole thing from falling apart.


Babylon 5, with some cyberpunk and a dash of superspies thrown in. Although the elevator is the focus, there is a lot of potential for Earthbound action, as well, allowing us to mix in genres other than pure SF.


The PCs are Makarev's personal fixers, assigned to do whatever it takes to get -- and keep -- things running smoothly.

What It's Interesting About The Setting 

It's an elevator. Into space.

How Does It End? 

  • Well: It worked! Makarev became even more ridiculously wealthy than he already was an easy access to space has opened up the solar system to humanity. Now it's time to repeat the feat... on Mars! 
  • Not-So-Well: It worked... a little too well.  Hostile takeover? Corporate politics?  Shakeup in the local government?  Superpower invasion?  However it happened, it got too big and Makarev (and, by extension the PCs) got forced out.  The space elevator will go on... with out them. 
  • Badly: Because, really, what could possibly be a cooler SFX sequence than a falling space elevator? 
  • Poignantly: The space elevator was the biggest, grandest, most expensive project in human history. A monument to one man's vanity. And, within a couple years of it's creation, the invention of anti- gravity, providing easy, cheap access to space from anywhere on Earth, rendered it completely useless. It was the greatest folly in human history. But in it's brief hayday... it was magnificent!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

City of the Century

The third of the six settings that we are considering for our next game is one that I have been thinking about for a very long time…

Officially incorporated on the first day of the 20th Century, the city of Silverlode has always embodied the American spirit of the age. From an iconic frontier town in the last days of the mythic American West it roared into a metropolis during the Twenties as a center of the aviation industry. As it suffered the effects of the Great Depression, Silverlode's spirit of adventure (and justice) was renewed with the first appearance of costumed heroes. The city then flexed its industrial muscle during World War II and was a major player in the Cold War vs. the Red Menace. And when that wall came down half-way around the world, Silverlode affirmed its position as the City of Tomorrow, a shining model for the coming century.

But in the last days of the Millennium, there is a palpable sense that something is coming. People talk about the Big Event - Y-2K, the Singularity, the Rapture, the Age of Aquarius, hell, even the Zombie Apocalypse. Something is coming. And while Silverlode was born with the century, it just might die with it as well.

Extraordinary characters, heirs to legacies that were forged in Silverlode's brilliant century, are perhaps the only ones who can ensure that the city survives into the Twenty-first.

In this campaign we'll play out these final action-packed moments of the Millennium. But we'll also flashback to earlier decades to explore the characters' progenitors as they interact with and possibly set in motion the events that will eventually lead to the End.


  • Watchmen & Promethea: The main influences that pretty much nail what I'm going for here,  though each has a very different take on the Apocalypse. 
  • Astro City: For the City as character in a superhero setting spanning decades. 
  • Young Justice 


Players will create modern heroes that will be placed into the thick of the action at century's end. More than that, each player creates the Legacy to which the character belongs and by extension the potential characters that represent that Legacy in earlier eras.

How It Ends

The Apocalypse occurs or it is averted in a dramatic fashion.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Gateway To the Solar System

The second of the six settings that we are considering for our next game is one of my own…

The peace secured by the League of Nations after the Great War allowed the Twentieth Century's greatest minds to focus on exploration rather than war. Mankind was propelled into space on the fires of atomic rockets. That they encountered offshoots of humanity on both Mars and Venus (not to mention remnants of older, stranger races) came as quite a shock. But it was only a short leap from League of Nations to League of Planets.

This second age of exploration drew the attention of extra-solar civilizations that maintained outposts beyond the Jovian orbit. Mankind's leap into space gave them probationary status in the galactic community but it also opened them up to exploitation by technological superiors.

And so we come to Gateway, the grandest port on Mars and home to a space elevator extending upwards from the ruins of a wondrously ancient precursor spire. At this crossroads of the solar system, the League of Planets Expeditionary Force keeps the peace as smugglers, gangsters, and spies ply their trade. The Legitimate Terran (or Martian or Venusian) merchants trade abundant natural resources and unique cultural artifacts for Galactic Alliance-approved technology and trade goods. But much, much more shows up on the Black Market, with Alliance Monitors always on the lookout for contraband hyperdrive technology that would grant the upstart Humans the keys to their own destiny.


  • Star Wars (the 70's space-opera look and feel is pretty much what I'm going for, as Mos Eisley is pretty close to what Gateway feels like). 
  • Northwest of Earth, by C.L. Moore (for the weird pulp adventurer of a scoundrel on the Venutian and Martian frontier) 
  • Tales of the Solar Patrol (Gurps supplement) and Cosmic Patrol (RPG) 
  • Babylon 5 for the bustling trading port of an upstart race.


  • League Expeditionaries, looking out for the interests of the Solar authorities (in the face of outlaws and technologically superior aliens) 
  • Covert Alliance Monitors (keeping contraband out of the hands of the upstart races and looking out for undisclosed, non-Alliance extra-solar civilizations) 
  • Assorted criminals and scoundrels (adventuring for fun and profit and occasionally for the good of Humanity)

What's Interesting

  • A cool space-opera vibe with a central exotic location. Yes, there will be rockets (and certainly rayguns), but many if not most adventures should take place in Gateway proper. 
  • Mars and Venus (and even secret areas of Earth) harbor ancient and weird (pseudo-mystical) ruins of ancient astronauts and elder powers. This provides an interesting hook to keep the campaign within the confines of the solar system (the other being that Humans are not hyperdrive capable yet) 
  • Lots of aliens, robots, weird cults, and organized crime (not to mention technologically superior and exploitive cultures from beyond the solar system). 

How It Ends

  • Humans acquire hyperdrive technology. They are either exterminated as a precautionary measure, welcomed into the galactic civilization as near-equals, or become barbarian conquerors. 
  • Powerful Alien outsiders show up, forcing the the League of Planets and Galactic Alliance to work together to fight a superior enemy.