Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Wasteland of the Western Sands for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

In my Barbarians of the Ruined Earth campaign (will be published soon).  The group has been fighting the Witch Grenzel and her Cabal of Shadows, which has been harassing the village of Route 66 and will soon be headed to either the Ruins of Santa Mo (Ancient Earth Santa Monica) or to Nukatomi Plaza.

 

This area will be in the final book (the map shown here is by the awesome Hex Kit by Cecil Howe, but I will have a fully illustrated map for the final product).

I wanted to keep the descriptions quick and easy and give just enough for the GM to use and build off of and go from there.

The Western Sands

BotRE Map

Map Key

For Encounters roll a 1d6.  On a 1-2 there is something of interest.  Roll 1d6.  If the result is even, it is an encounter (see page XX).  If the result is odd, the group has found an interesting location (see page XX).

Fortress Ruins of Glanora of the Sands

  • Dilapidated, crumbling, and terrifying.
  • Screams and cackling echoes through halls.
  • Fortress holds Stupendous Science device in the lowest basement.

 

Imperceptible Bluffs of the Winged Mutant People

  • Extremely high bluffs with colorful vegetation (some alien in origin).
  • Winged mutants circle the air like vultures, acting as sentries.
  • Large stone statue of Haputra, a Cosmic Being worshipped by the Winged Mutant People, rests atop highest bluff.

 

Nukatomi Plaza, The Last Human Kingdom and the Ruins of Los Angel (Ancient Earth City Los Angeles)

 

Ravaging Dunes of Time

  • Soft silky sand, various colors from golden to black.
  • Sand always blows in opposite direction than the wind.
  • The cult Guardians of Time have a temple hidden beneath the dunes.

 

The Ruins of Santa Mo (Ancient Earth City Santa Monica)

  • Crumbled, smoldering, fetid.
  • Small pockets of scavengers, mutants, raiders, and monsters dot the landscape.
  • Secret lair for Gongfrath, the Sorcerer here. Up-and-coming Sorcerer about to make his epic debut.

 

Sand Drifter Village

  • Single-story brown huts constructed of coarse matieral.
  • Isolated villagers, mistrusting of outsiders.
  • Pig Raiders (pg XX) have been attacking those who venture too far from the village.

 

Shifting and Dancing Oasis

  • Pristine waters, clean, inviting.
  • Water Weird (pg XX) is home here, guarding the waters.
  • The tomb of Sophis the Proud is hidden beneath the sand dunes here.

 

Shopping Mall Fortress of the Witch Grenzel

  • Dilapidated, smells of rot, and magic. Ancient Earth devices found inside.
  • Grenzel and her cult, The Cabal of Shadows, schemes for more power. Cause trouble for Route 66.
  • Alien spaceship crashed into large department store. Aliens are battling Grenzel and her forces.

 

Snakemen Village

  • Mounds with holes leading to extensive underground network of tunnels.
  • Spears, arrows, bones, and shed reptilian skin dot the sand around the village.
  • Human slaves toil tirelessly in the Violet Cactus fields.

 

Technodabbler’s Circuitry Fortress

  • Large circuit boards are the structures. All connected via circuity built into the streets.
  • Bio-engineered humanoids wander the streets. Humans (deemed inferior) are slaves, servants, and fodder.  Outsiders beware.
  • Technodabbler, emaciated, cadaver-like, and cruel, rests on his throne in the Processor Tower.

 

Technothusists’ Energy Farm

  • Patchwork of Ancient Earth technology and stolen Stupendous Science devices cause things to run.
  • Water wheels and wind turbines run constantly to generate energy. Energy sold to Route 66 and Nukatomi Plaza.
  • Technothusists are fringe humans with fascination for Ancient Earth technology, to the extreme.

 

The Village of Route 66

  • Houses made of metal storage crates, village walls made of crushed, stacked cars.
  • Humans work hard in fields. Trade with scavengers from Santa Mo and caravans from Nukatomi Plaza.
  • Troubles with Grenzel the Witch. Powerful Ancient Earth device in a dilapidated hanger not far from town.

 

The Wreckage of the Sorcerer Aluminum Ivan’s Devastation Machine

  • Metal covered in barnacles, rust, and seaweed.
  • Crashing of waves ding and clang against the metal.
  • Many of the internal areas are powered and full of wondrous treasures and deadly monstrosities.

The Last Human Kingdom, the Arcology Nukatomi Plaza- For Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

While writing BotRE, I knew I wanted a single Human kingdom in my game.  This will be included as a point crawl area in the book.  GM’s are feel to ignore Nukatomi Plaza if they want to go with a more Thundarr feel, but I know some groups (mine included) like having at least one urban area to go to, should they want a change of pace from wilderness exploring.

 

The Nukatomi Plaza

Nukatomi Plaza

This massive arcology was constructed in Los Angeles before the world fell and was the headquarters for the Nukatomi Corporation as well as a source of commerce, residence, and government offices and was completed in the year 1987.  The remaining records left on the few Ancient Earth computers that work tell the scribes that much.

 

Now, in the Ruined Earth, the Nukatomi Plaza is the only known kingdom of humanity.  This two hundred story tower stretches high into the skyline of the ruins of Los Angel, its windows gleam in the light of the red-tinted sky.  The plaza is capable of housing over 150,000 people comfortably, but no one really knows the current population.

 

Every ten floors are considered a “block” and are overseen by a gang, elected official, dictator, or some other form of representative.  All convene on the top floor where they report and pay tribute to Lightning Jack, who sits on his high-backed metal throne and amasses power and plots machinations.

 

Nukatomi Plaza is a place of opportunity.  Some blocks are clean with electricity, medical care, and education.  Others are dark, fetid, and dangerous; gang violence, murder, and drugs are the orders of the day.  While there is competition between blocks, that sometimes turns into violence, outright war is illegal and not tolerated by Lightning Jack and punishment is met out by his Sparkers.  Trade is active between most of the blocks, for each has something the other needs or wants, however sometimes the price is just too high, and taking by force is a better option.

 

The first floor of the plaza houses a large bazaar where the different blocks and traveling caravans sell their wares, ply their trades, and seek needed goods in ramshackle tents.  A few food shops, taverns, and a few organizations can be found here as well.  Lightning Jack’s Sparkers have a constant presence here, making sure no one steps out of line, causes too much trouble, or goes against any of Lighting Jack’s decrees.

 

Sorcery is not tolerated in Nukatomi Plaza, and most peaceful Sorcerers tend to avoid this place.  Many of the citizens of Nukatomi have been under the tyranny of a Sorcerer at one point or another.  Those Sorcerers that do enter the plaza are met with distrust, hatred, and outright violence.

 

Immediately outside Nukatomi Plaza are the grand garages, where motor gangs repair their vehicles, and pay a high price for fuel and parts.  Near the garages are several farms, where slaves and indentured servants toil tirelessly to provide food for the plaza.  Many of these people are criminals, exiles, or someone who owes Lightning Jack in some fashion or another.

 

The ruins of Los Angel surround the plaza and are filled with small pockets of settlers, scavengers, bands of raiders, and twisted, dangerous creatures.  Treasure, useful trinkets, and even Stupendous Science devices can be found by a keen eye and dedicated scavenger in the rubble of the Ancient Earth city, not to mention all the grand devices and treasure from the remains of an epic Wizard’s War which occurred in the ruins of Los Angel over a thousand years ago.

 

Creating Blocks

Give each block a theme/feel, create a leader (or group of leaders), and give the block an interesting location/thing, and a problem for the players to discover.

 

Some sample blocks are listed below.

 

 

 

Sample Blocks
Roll 1d8 Result
1 Rumble Block: This block is governed through brute force and resembles a feudal system more than anything else.  People are forced to do dangerous work to eat and survive with little or no compensation.  The block is filthy, has no electricity, and smells of vegetation, fertilizer, and mildew.  Leader: Klicks is angry, vicious, and heavily scarred.  Klicks leads with brutal control and will not tolerate any challenge to their authority.  Hates beastmen and Sorcerers.  A group of enforcers go throughout block to bully and oversee Klicks’ will.  Interesting Thing: The Pit- There is a fighting pit where Klicks forces his people to fight in bloody romps.  Some fights go too far and a participant dies.  Interesting Problem: Recently Klicks mother was poisoned and died.  Klicks already tenuous grasp on reality has been stretched.  He fears assassination plots from within his own block and is gearing to go to war at the slightest provocation from the other blocks.
2 Healer’s Ward: This block has decent medical care and oftentimes gets people from other blocks coming for aid.  The block is decently clean and kept in repair, has electricity, and smells of aromatic cleaning agents.  Leader: Finder has keen and sharp eyes.  Finder has been a scavenger of the Ruined Earth for as long as anyone can remember.  Much of the medical devices/technology and knowledge that are applied on this block are found on during excursions into the ruins of Los Angel.  Finder is shy and quiet, preferring solitude over large gatherings.  Interesting Thing: A bowling ball-sized chunk of the moon is worshipped as a cosmic being.  Many of the people of Healer’s Ward believe the rock speaks to them in their mind and glows when they prey to it.  Interesting Problem: Recently one of the Healer’s Rooms was ransacked for medicinal supplies.  The Healer’s family was knocked unconscious and swears they didn’t see who did it.  The Healer was killed, a scalpel in their head.
3 Zang’s House: Gang violence, drugs, and other illicit trade is the order of the day on this block.  Many of the thugs are good with mechanical parts and tend to venture out into the ruins on Ancient Earth vehicles in search of scrap and parts.  Sparks pop and fly from metal working, engine parts line the hallways, and it smells like oil.  Leader: Zang is a ruthless cutthroat who took over this block years ago and has remained on top ever since.  Zang has a gang of thugs who oversee drug manufacturing on the block and distribute to other blocks and caravans.  Interesting Location: The Smoke Den- this den if ill-repute is a haven for those wishing to escape the harsh reality of the Ruined Earth.  Drugs, digital entertainment, and distractions of the flesh are all to be found in the Smoke Den.  Interesting Problem: One of Zang’s new drugs, called the Purple Eye, has become tainted and instead of putting the user into a lethargic, serene state, it causes them to become irate, violent, and stronger than normal.  Zang wants to know who ruined his drugs and exact revenge.  Unfortunately, Zang is still selling the drug, regardless of its effects.
4 The Growers Block: The block grows food, either by assisting the farms in the ruins below, or through the baskets they have constructed to hang on the outside of the plaza.  They collect water in large basins and store it, willing to trade the needed resource for other goods.  The block is dirty, with heaps of dirt and fertilizer are piled into the halls, has no electricity, and smells of vegetation and fertilizer.  Leader: Red Eye has a cybernetic eye with red lens which was forcibly put in by a Sorcerer when younger.  Red Eye is quiet and terse, but will not abide by bullying or violence against their people.  Interesting Location: The Alien Garden- A large greenhouse was built on this block and the dirt used to fill the pots was alien in origin.  The result is a large, beautiful garden with bizarre alien flowers, trees, and other vegetation.  Some is actually incredibly dangerous, like the Life Leech Plant, which drains the life force of those that get too close.  Interesting Problem: Heathens and thugs from another block (or perhaps several) are harassing the Growers Block, threatening violence if the growers do not relinquish more food to them.
5 Halo Block: The block has several bits of working Ancient Earth tech that they use to make medicine and drugs that are traded throughout the plaza and sent on caravans.  Many of the people of this block are taught to read and write (whether they want to learn or not) so they can help create concoctions that will get the block coins, favors, stature with Lightning Jack, or needed goods.  The block is clean, has computers and is lined with lab benches with people hunched over working.  The block smells clean and sterile and has working electricity.  Leader: The Observer leads this block with cold calculated efficiency.  Time cards, whistles, calculations, rhythms and flow all govern the actions of the citizens of this block to make sure the highest level of output is achieved.  Those who are unable to deliver enough often find themselves exiled out of the plaza or left, hog-tied, in a less desirable block.  Interesting Location: The Chop Shop- The Observer has created a cybernetic shop that will replace people’s organic bits with cold, efficient technology.  No one knows how The Observer obtained this piece of Stupendous Science, but many feel it is a cause of concern.  Interesting Problem: An explosion rips through a large portion of a floor of the block.  Several people are injured and killed.  The Observer is sure that this is the work of a Sorcerer who was after Stupendous Science devices and other supplies that can only be obtained on the block.
6 Park Block: Area has become overgrown by plants and vegetation.  Rumors have it that it was the work of a magical ritual gone wrong.  The citizens here live, because there is no choice, in a balance with the nature of the block.  There is no electricity on this block, and the sounds of birds and small wildlife greets the ears.  Leader: Vin is an agile youth that took up the mantle of leader due to no other alternative after the previous leader was killed by Lightning Jack.  Vin has made many mistakes attempting to lead the Park Block, the growing pains of learning, but the citizens of the block are accepting of these mistakes, desperately hoping Vin can make everyone’s lives a little better.  Interesting Things:  A large tree grows in the block, and no matter how much is trimmed from the tree, it grows back within a couple days.  The inhabitants of this block treat the tree with some reverence and caution, for they have come to depend on the almost never-ending supply of wood, but wonder what the cost of this miracle will be.  Interesting Problem: Whatever sorcery that has created this strange phenomenon to manifest on this block also occasionally allows terrifying monstrosities to appear.  A predatorial hybrid animal (pg XX) stalks the inhabitants, taking prey in the dead of the night.
7 Feral Block: This block is decorated with animal pelts, heads, and other animalistic pieces of art.  The people of this block wear animal skins and pelts and heads.  They believe they can channel the animal’s spirit.  Ferals are usually hired out as protection on excursions into the Ruined Earth.  Leader: Guard Dog believes in the order of the pack and deals with problems and challenges to their authority in a vicious fashion.  Guard Dog cares for the citizens of their block, for they are the pack, and will not tolerate violence against them.  Feral’s are usually at war with at least one other block due to some perceived slight.  Interesting Location: The Celebration Hall- A large area has been created for Ferals to come together to party and gorge themselves on drink and food.  Many Ferals will sleep together here in a large gathering of bodies pressed together, like a pack of wolves.  Interesting Problem: A splinter faction of Ferals has formed and are challenging the ways of the block and the leadership of Guard Dog.  The block is nearing a state of civil war and other blocks are worried the violence will spill into their territory.
8 The Slums: This block is a haven for hoarders, scavengers, and riff raff.  Junk is piled high throughout the halls and rooms.  There is electricity on this block, but it shorts out from time to time.  The block smells stale- of sweat, dirt, and hardship.  The citizens of this block work hard and play hard.  They constantly venture into the ruins of Los Angel (and some even further) to find valuable treasures.  Leader: Tinker Tot is an eccentric and eclectic leader.  Playful and joyous, but able to fly into a storming rage without warning, then back to being playful just as quickly.  Tinker Tot loves fiddling with gizmos and gadgets.  The halls of the Slums are filled with Tinker Tot’s devices- some work, some don’t.  Interesting Location: The Sloppy Noodle Shop- Known as one of the most delicious food joints in many blocks.  The noodle shop is run by an ancient and withered Vek called Ren.  Interesting Problem: One of Tinker Tot’s devices works too well and has caused a rift to open in realty, connecting another dimension to this one.  What sort of beings will come through?  What will happen if someone travels through?

 


Hubris Session 3- Exploring Undra the Great Spire

It’s been awhile since we’ve continued our monthly Hubris game as we took three sessions to playtest the first draft of my first Hubris module.   The playtest was quite a bit of fun and the group had a great time fighting orcs on a train!

Aside: Hubris PDF and POD here.

Players

Angie- Human Thistle Druid- level 1.  Named Ageo.

Nate- Avarian Trickster- level 1.  Named Crimshaw of the 7th Clutch.

Tyler- Mutant (squishy, oddly-shaped body, flamingo legs, and ant colony in his veins that he can release once per day as an attack)- level 1.  Named “Ant” Squishy.

Jamie- Human Cleric  (follower of Set)- level 1.  Named Spike.

Not Present This Session

Kevin- Human Thief- level 1.  Named Herr Schmierkase (means cottage cheese in German)

Emma- Half Demon- level 1

Sammi- Human Blood Witch- level 1.  Named Willow

Strolling Through the Grand Bazaar

I decided to draw a picture of how I saw Undra in my mind to help orient the players.  I have MAD art skillz.

IMG_3160

We kicked off our session this session with the group standing on the first level of the Grand Bazaar, taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells.  The group decided that the first priority was to figure out what the scroll found on the body of the beastmen they killed last session said.  They debated just going to the top level of Undra and turning over the piece of paper to the Royal Guard of the Setting Sun, but figured they wouldn’t be able to find out what it means.

They decided to mill around the bazaar and see if anyone could translate the document, or at least recommend someone who could.

IMG_3159

Example layout of the Grand Bazaar

Spike, cleric of Set, noticed an ancient looking woman in drab clothing making exquisite sculptures.  He recognized her necklace (that of an open book) as the holy symbol of the God of the Terrible Whisper.  Spike approached the old woman and struck up a conversation with her.

Mama

“I’m actually only 40 years old!”

Spike and the old woman talked about the fickle love of their gods- Spire referring to the serpentine-like scars over his eyes for gaining Set’s disapproval.  The old woman laughed and showed him the start of a clubbed/deformed hand and said, “I have angered my god many times…  I am actually only 40 years old!”

Spike began inquiring about a sculpture on a shelf behind the old woman; it was of the Four Gorgons of Desire- four female humanoid bodies all merging together onto one serpentine body.  Spike noticed the same elegant script as found on the letter.

The woman looked at a piece of paper and read the translation, “Beware the serpents, for all wait in the dark, ready to strike.”

Spike asked if she was able to translate the language.

“No.  I do not know it.”

“Where might we get something translated?”

She coughed and spat a large phlegm ball, “Go to Junk Town.  Top level.  You’ll find a dilapidated library for the God of the Terrible Whisper.  Inside you’ll find The Watcher.  You’ll know him when you see him.  He can help you.”

The group thanked her for her time, tipped her some copper pieces and went on their way.

Ageo, the Thistle Druid, tried to haggle with an old hag for some healing potions, but instead was offered a thick bubbling black liquid that the woman claimed to be rejuvenating potions.  Ageo asked what they did.

“Why they keep you alive silly girl!  Would you believe that I am 190 years old?!  And I’m a HUMAN!”

Witch

Ageo got the hell out of dodge and the group decided it was time to venture down into Junk Town.

The group took the elevators down to the top level of Junk Town and were amazed by the amount of clutter, refuse, and junk piled in the area.  Large tubes poked through the ceiling, dumping garbage at a steady stream.  Some tubes went through the level, disappearing into the floor to drop their contents on another level of Junk Town.

Ant Squishy used his hound dog ability to see if he could detect any nearby mutants.  After a few seconds he felt four mutants nearby.  He walked up to the first one- a lithe cloaked female and attempted to strike up a conversation.

“Do you know where the Watcher is?”

“Wwwhhhat do you want with meeeee?”

The woman turned and revealed a slender serpentine face, extremely long arms with spider leg-like fingers.  She was filthy and looked hungry.

The group talked to her for a few minutes, eventually she said they needed to go on a sky bridge to another district.  There they would find the library they were seeking.

Serpent

Ageo gave her four copper pieces for the info and the group turned to leave.  I had Angie make a Luck roll- she failed.  Unfortunately, other hungry scavengers in the area noticed Ageo’s generosity and decided to take the coins from the woman.

The group turned and told the group of men to leave the woman be.  The braggarts, no doubt bolstered by their numbers, decided it would be a good idea to mug the party instead.  With the distraction, the woman disappeared into the junk piles.

Crimshaw decided to transform from his Avarian form into a human one.  Bones snapped and popped, poking through his flesh, as mucus-like fluid oozed from his flesh.  All the bandits were horrified and nauseated at this sight.  Ageo pulled out her bone spear and gutted the first thug while Ant Squishy released his ant horde on a thug.  Spike channeled the wrath of Set and bellowed “Bow!” and pointed his finger down.  Three of the four remaining thugs did so.  The fourth made a run for it, disappearing around a large pile of junk.  With a final shriek, the man being attacked by Ant Squishy’s ants died.  The group made their way towards the land bridge, while Ageo stayed behind to completely castrate all the other men so they would think twice about their actions against women.

IMG_3158

Sample map for Junk Town

Aside: I’m taking a page of Vornheim’s book on generating city territory as needed.  I wanted to have a sample floor ready for my players to explore Junk Town.  What I decided for Undra is that some floors wouldn’t be completely delved out into a cavernous hollow.  Instead they would be delved into large “rooms.”  So I created a chart (see below) that would tell me what the shape of the room is.  Then simply connect them via passages or sky bridges.  

District Shape
Roll 1d6 Result
1 Triangle
2 Square
3 Circle
4 Rectangle
5 Diamond
6 Pentagon

The group made their way into the next district and found the library in the distance.  The group entered the old building, which was a large pillar of rocked connecting the floor to the ceiling of the district.  Inside was a monk of the God of the Terrible Whisper, sorting through books that were still in decent conditions from those that needed repair and replacement.

Spike asked after the Watcher.  The monk was hesitant to give out such info, but a few coins for the cause of repairing such important books, loosened his tongue.  “Go through this archway to the central chamber.  There you’ll find many of my order repairing these books.  The Watcher is in there.”

I then asked each of the group to create a quick story based on an emotional aspect (I used my Bonds thinger).  I gave them a few minutes and then asked them for their story.

The group made their way into a large central room, torches in brackets with eeirie cool blue light illuminating the area.  Several monks bent over desks scribbling away, repairing books.  In the far end of the room, the light faded, but a large shape could be seen.

The group entered the room and then the sound of heavy pages being flipped filled the room.  A soft, but strong voice began speaking.  It summarized a challenging time for Ant Squishy, where is arrogance nearly cost him everything… Then it spoke of the alienating feeling Ageo has with others, not sure they understand the importance of nature and its balance… Crimshaw caused the death of a comrade due to his greed and (at the time) lack of skills… and finally Spike was worried about not being worth of Set and that his god would abandon him, or worse, punish him…  All the while, the pages kept flipping.  The figure stood, massive, and covered in shadow.  The figure began walking towards the group, the sound of heavy bare feet slapping against the rock floor.

Coming into the light was The Watcher.

Monster 11

“All these stories are in the annuals of time… One simply has to know where to read.  What do you need of me?”

And that’s where we left off.  It was a fun (albeit short) session.  We will be playing again at the end of May.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the players interact with The Watcher and more delving into Junk Town.

The group is torn between staying in Undra and finding work and coins (i.e., hunting beastmen, picking up other odd jobs, etc), getting the scroll translated by The Watcher (or someone else), or saying screw all and packing up and heading to Razar in the Unsettled Expanse (because several in the group wants to go hunt fucking dinosaurs!).