Author Archives: wrathofzombie

About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

Strange Stars Races- Savage Worlds Style, Baby- Smaragdines

Here’s some more fun from the Savage Worlding of Strange Stars.

Smaragdines

The Smaragdines are the visionaries of the Alliance, known for their psi abilities. All citizens are required to have at least rudimentary skills because the crystalline megapolis of Smaragdoz is ruled by a group-mind Consensus: The captured thoughts and desires of the citizens form an entity of pure thought that makes laws by decree. All Smaragdine children are tested for psi abilities, and the most promising are sent to one of a number of academies (SS, pg 11). Here’s a post by Trey on the Smaragdines.

 

Consensus: The great group-mind bestows base knowledge to all Smaragdines.  A player chooses two skills to start at a d4 for free at character generation.

Psionic: Nearly all Smaragdines have some psi capability.  Start with the Arcane Background: Psionics (SWDX, pg 104) with 10 power points and 3 powers.

Isolated: Smaragdines are shocked when they leave their homeworld and not connected to the group-mind, missing the constant whispers that trail through their mind.  They suffer -1 to all Spirit rolls when not on their planet.

Alone: Being part of the group-mind is an intense and wonderful shared experience.  When not on their planet they have the Outsider (minor) hindrance (SWDX, pg 30).


Strange Stars Races- Savage Worlds Style, Baby- The Thrax

Continuing on the road of Savage Worlding the races from Trey Causey’s awesome Strange Stars.  Today we look at the Thrax.

 

Thrax

Not actual art from Strange Stars, but still a bad ass picture.

Not actual art from Strange Stars, but still a bad ass picture.

 

“The Alliance’s greatest warriors are the thrax. A clone race created for conquest by a long-forgotten culture, they still structure their society along martial lines (SS, pg 10).”  Here is a post by Trey about the Thrax.

Brute: Thrax have been engineered to be strong.  They begin play with a d8 in Strength instead of a d4.

Monomolecular Blade: The most important possession to a thrax is their monomolecular blade, which is a symbol of their stature amongst their own kind.  This massive two-handed weapon does str+d10 damage.  Each weapon has a battery pack in the hilt, that when activated causes the blade to become monomolecular (though an advanced electrical field).  When the blade has been transformed into a monomolecular blade, it deals an additional 4 damage and has 5AP.  Treat the blade as a weird science gizmo.  The blade has 10 power points and utilizes the Smite spell (SWDX, pg 116).  Activating the blade consumes 2 power points and lasts for one round.  An additional power point is consumed each round thereafter.  Expend more PP for longer duration.  Recharge is 1 PP per hour (SWDX, pg 102).

Skilled Fighters: Thrax are trained to fight and begin with a d4 in Fighting.

Battle Armor: Thrax begin with battle armor that grants +4 against ballistic and melee attacks (but no protection against energy weapons).  Replacing this armor costs $1,000 credits.

Glory and Honor: Thrax believe in honor and it has been instilled in their culture since its creation.  Thrax all have the Code of Honor hindrance (SWDX, pg 28).

Bull-headed: Thrax are stubborn creatures.  They have the Stubborn hindrance (SWDX, pg 31).

Cloned Being:  Many cultures are not comfortable with what the Thrax represent.  When not among their own kind a thrax suffers from the Outsider hindrance (SWDX, pg 30).  Should a thrax ever lose their monomolecular blade they are treated as an outsider amongst their own kind as well.


Strange Stars Races- Savage Worlds Style, Baby- Humans and Djägga

I am gearing up to run some Strange Stars (written by the sexy Trey Causey) with a small group of players in the near future (my GM burnout is starting to wane).  I am looking forward to running this as a change of pace that my group and I normally go through- which is A) taking a break from fantasy; B) and going with a more pulp/action feel VS the gritty deadliness I was doing in our 5e campaign, or the ultra high 0ctane meat grinder that is Hubris.

My Strange Stars game will be heavily inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek, Star Wars, and pulp action (1940’s two-fisted style).  To accomplish this I’ll be using Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition and the Sci-Fi companion.

Here’s my review of Strange Stars.  Here is Trey’s awesome links page of more Strange Stars goodness.

Anyways- I’m going to start throwing up some of the Strange Stars races with Savage Worlds rules (hopefully Trey will approve- if not, I’m sure there’s a help group out there that will help him cope with the disappointment of my choices).

Humans

blade_runner_0072

Humans are prevalent throughout the known universe, almost like a galactic cockroach.  Humans are tenacious and somehow always able to get themselves out of trouble.  Humans start with an additional edge and the Luck edge.

Djägga

“The vaguely feline humanoid djägga are hunters by nature and instinct, and many choose to hunt other sophonts as bounty hunters or assassins. Djägga tend to be solitary and are often mistrustful of others, but they’re loyal. They are also keen to avenge any perceived betrayal. Competitions can trigger their predator instincts, so it’s prudent to avoid games with djägga, particularly ones involving a physical component (SS, pg 8).”  Here’s an old post by Trey about the Djägga.

 SS Outer Rim Spread

Agile: The feline grace of the djägga grant them d6 in Agility rather than d4.

Keen Senses:  Djägga have heightened senses, granting +2 to notice rolls when using sight, hearing, or smell.

Natural Hunters: Djägga begin with a d6 in tracking.

Rage: A Djägga beings with the Berserk edge (SWDX, pg 32).

Mistrustful of Others: Djägga are slow to trust others or situations beyond their control.  All djägga have the Cautions Hindrance (SWDX, pg 28)

Avenge any Betrayal: Djägga can be vindictive and will hold a grudge on any perceived slight against them.  Djägga have the Vengeful Hindrance (major) (SWDX, pg 31).


I Done Did a Podcast With Some Awesome Folks- Drink Spin Run- GM Burnout

I just did a podcast with the amazing Stacey Dellorfano, the super Donn Stroud, and the sexy Adam Muszkiewicz!

In part one we talked about what we are all drinking, spinning, and running.

In part two we talked about the sensitive subject of GM Burnout.

I want to thank Drink Spin Run for having me on!  I had a blast!  I’m looking forward to doing that again.

 


Strange Stars- A Fantastic Voyage into Space Operatic RPGage!  

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the PDF version of the book for review purposes- which was very generous of Trey, because I planned to buy this bad boy anyways- but there you are. 

 

Checklist-

Coffee- Check

Anthrax play- no wait- now it’s Iron Maiden playing- Check

PDF open- check

Notes ready- check

Went to the bathroom- check… probably have to go again soon because of coffee

 

Alright- it’s review time.

 

Set a Course for Warp Fucking Awesome and Engage

Strange Stars Cover

Recently “Mr. Bad Ass” Trey Causey (here’s his blog) released his very delicious book Strange Stars on Drivethru RPG and for POD.  Many talented hands went into this book, including Jez Gordon, David Lewis Johnson, Lester B. Portley, and many others.  Strange Stars pays homage to the glory days of space opera adventures (which can clearly be seen just by looking at the front cover).  Just by flipping through the book you can see inspiration from Star Trek, Star Wars, Flash Gordon, 2001: Space Odyssey, Aliens, Farscape, Cowboy Bebop, and even new adventures like Guardians of the Galaxy (movie trailer below) or the Mass Effect games (although I know Trey hasn’t played these).  It is a setting that begs to be played with a group of high-octane heroes engaging in galactic acts of daring-do; a cigar resting in between their teeth, a wry smile on their face, and a massive repeater blaster rifle in their hands, cutting down hordes of hideous alien creatures…

 

Some people may balk at the book being only 30 pages for $9.99- but it’s important to realize that that this book is a dense and beautiful 30 pages.  There is no wasted space in this book and there is gorgeous artwork on every single page.

 

If you are looking for a book filled with rich histories, detailed customs and lifestyles of each planet and race- then this might not be the book for you.  Strange Stars is a gazetteer that gives the GM just enough enticing information to get their imagination going.  Trey says just as much on the back of his book (for the full statement from the author see below): It’s meant to provide the imagination fuel — and the freedom — that watching Star Wars did when the world beyond the film consisted only of evocative details like “the Clone Wars” or “the Spice Mines of Kessel.”  While reading Strange Stars, excitement and inspiration flooded my brain.  I liked that the book was simple, flowed, and I didn’t get bogged down with tons of fluff that I would have to try to remember or conjure up later.  It is for me to decide the customs, lore, lifestyle, etc. of each race after knowing the building blocks of what Trey has given.

Strange Stars Alliance ver3

The setting is system neutral, but enough description is given about a particular race’s special abilities that a GM can quickly create mechanics for their chosen ruleset.  Trey is currently (with help from others) writing companions for both Stars Without Numbers (here’s the free version) and FATE Core.

 

So What is IN the Damned Book?!

 

The book opens with a quick historical overview (two brief pages), then delves into categories of “sophonts”- basically the categorization of all the alien species that a group of adventures will run across in their adventures.  There are three categories: biologics, moravecs, and infosophonts (pg 5).

 

  • Biologics- “Biologics include the descendants of organisms that evolved naturally (either on Old Earth or some other world), created organisms, and bioroids (biologic androids).”
  • Moravecs- “Moravecs (their name is derived from the surname of an Old Earth scientist-prophet) are self-replicating, sapient robots.”
  • Infosophonts- “Infosophonts (sometimes called ai) are digital minds independent of physical -form. Some choose to live entirely in the noosphere, while others wear one or more bodies.”

 

Edi from the Mass Effect series is a perfect example of how the lines are blurred between sophonts

Edi from the Mass Effect series is a perfect example of how the lines are blurred between sophonts

Aside: I really dig this breakdown- makes everything quick and easy. 

 

Strange Stars then does a quick blurb about starships and space travel Strange Stars Connection Mapbefore proceeding to the largest chunk of the book, sectors of space.  This area has nice little summaries of planets, organizations, governments, etc.  Again it’s all bare bones meant to illicit an imaginative response rather than bogging you down this needless details and information.


SS Outer Rim Spread

Finally there is a page outlining psi and psionics and a page describing pronunciation and terminology.

 

 

In Conclusion

I really like Trey’s approach to this book.  It makes me WANT to play (well I’ll be the one running it for my group) this game.  I understand that, as the GM, I have to do most of the heavy lifting because it’s only bare bones, but I really like that.  I like that it’s got that nebulous approach because I can add whatever other races, monsters, aliens, I fucking want.

 

I love that I can hand my players this 30 page book and say “feel free to read this- or don’t, but point out the race you wanna play be the pictures.”  Boom!  Done!  I don’t have to explain a bunch of stuff- I can just go with the flow.  If one of my players wants to play a fucking Andorian from Star Trek or Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy- easy peasy.

 

I like that, to prep my players for the setting, I can just tell them to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, or knowing they’ve seen Star Wars and Star Trek- they are already good to go.  “Oh you’ve played Mass Effect?  Perfect!”

 

I know that’s the same with fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons, “Oh you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies?  Awesome!” However more often than not with this example  I find that there are more alterations and notes to keep track of “Well this is like LotR, but the elves in my game shoot fire out of their nostrils when angry and dwarves are actually made of stone that tastes like cheese when they die.  Blah blah blah.”  While I think that this can be thrown back in my face about using Guardians of the Galaxy or whatever- I feel it’s minimal by comparison (but that’s just me and my own interpretation).

 

The only gripe I did have (and I voiced it to Trey) was the lack of a quick mission/adventure generator in the book.  Trey was good enough to post one on his blog (and it’s a good quick generator), but I do feel that not incorporating a 1-3 page quick mission was a small lost opportunity.  It’s not a HUGE issue- just a niggle.  I’m hoping to see something in the Strange Stars companions that are coming out.  All in all Trey accomplished exactly what he set out to do and I think he did a great job!

 

I am planning on running a Strange Stars campaign for my group using Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition and the Sci-Fi Companion…  It’ll be easy to mold Strange Stars to the fast and furious ruleset!

 

Lastly here is a link of various things Trey has also written for Strange Stars.

This is the description from the back of the book:

”Strange Stars is a far-future space opera setting where Earth is only a legend and humanity’s myriad descendants and creations have spread throughout the galaxy. It’s a setting of classic space opera adventure like the works of E. C. Tubb or Jack Vance updated with elements of modern transhuman science fiction as written by Alastair Reynolds or Hannu Rajaneimi and presented with the visual aesthetics of ‘70s sci-fi films and comic books.

 

In 30 pages, this book is an introduction to the setting, not an exhaustive treatment. It’s also structured differently than a lot of role-playing setting books, owing more to things like the Galactic Encounters series and any number of reference works for popular sci-fi franchises. It takes more of a “bottom-up” approach — focusing on characters and interesting details, building the wider world by implication — rather than a “top-down” approach of giving the big picture and then painting in the details. It’s vague in some ways but vague to a purpose. Hopefully it will inspire you to create your own version of the setting rather than to establish a canon. It’s meant to provide the imagination fuel — and the freedom — that watching Star Wars did when the world beyond the film consisted only of evocative details like “the Clone Wars” or “the Spice Mines of Kessel.”

 

This book is also systemless and (with the exception of this introduction and the credits) written from an “in-world” perspective, so it can be used as a resource for players at the gaming table. Future releases will give rules for adapting the setting to a couple of different game systems and more coverage on some setting elements that may seem obscure here. There is also a short glossary and pronunciation guide on page 29 of this book.  More information about the setting can be found at the “Strange Stars Index” on the Sorcerer’s Skull blog (www.sorcerersskull.blogspot.com/p/the-strange-stars.html). One post also in cludes a list of inspirations and influences.”

 


The Murder Hobo- A 5e Halfling Subrace

The Murder Hobo

Murderhobo 1

As a murder hobo Halfling, you revel in the suffering of others- especially when you’re the one inflicting it.  Other Halfling races tend to shy away from you and your unpleasant demeanor.  You weave in and out of combatants and tense situations, attempting to cut as many hamstrings and do as many kidney shots as possible, muttering an unsettling laugh all the while.

 

Ability Score Increase. Increase your strength score by 1.

Murderhobo 3

The Smell of Blood.  The thought of inflicting pain on another creature gets blood of a Murder Hobo Halfling pumping, and impatient to get into the fray.  You have advantage on initiative rolls.

Murderhobo 2

Pin Cushion.  Murder Hobo’s enjoy inflicting pain.  On your first attack you against a target deal an extra point of damage.

Murderhobo 4

Unsettling Laugh.  Murder Hobo’s have an unsettling laugh that makes people uncomfortable (see video below).

 


Thoughts on a New 5e Campaign- Thanks for the Inspiration Jez Gordon!!!

Setting Idea

Summoning

 

The high elves empire was at its pinnacle, yet desired more power.  The high elf king entered into a contract with ancient and forgotten gods in the hopes of advancing his empire even further.  Instead of delivering on their promise, the elder gods brought chaos and death to the world.  The high elf empire was destroyed and horrid portals opened in the sky, flooding the world with abominations.  The various kingdoms of the world fought a losing battle for decades and watched in horror as each of their allies were toppled one by one.  Plague and chaos reigned for decades.  The divine was cut off from the mortal realm, leaving clerics, priests, and paladins unable to perform miracles and heal the ailing.

 

Vault 1

Dwarven vaults

Eventually the dwarves and dragonkind came up with a plan they hoped would save the few remaining humanoids.   The dwarves delved into the earth and created massive vaults capable of housing thousands of beings.  Humanoids were placed in specially crafted and blessed chambers and put into a deep sleep, and the vaults were sealed.  Those that volunteered or could not fit inside the vault stayed in the outlying dwarven outpost as guardians of the vaults.

 

The dragonkind knew their time was upon them and offered up one final and mighty prayer to their divine god, Bahamaut, to save the world- offering up their own lives as sacrifice.  The combined offering of all dragonkind reached Bahamaut, who agreed to the offering.  In a flash of light- all dragonkind vanished, as did the divine touch of Bahamaut and other gods, but the deed worked.  The portals that the elder gods had opened were sealed, but the damage was done.

 

 

 

The sacrifice of the dragonkind will never be forgotten.

The sacrifice of the dragonkind will never be forgotten.

 

 

The deity Bahamut is still worshiped as the savior of the world.

The deity Bahamut is still worshiped as the savior of the world.

Millennia have passed and those in the vaults slumbered.  Five hundred years ago those slumbering in the vaults awoke to find themselves in a less than ideal situation.  Many of the vaults were broken into by beings of the underdark, taking slumber bodies into the depths for food, slaves, or worse.  The vault-dwellers fought to establish order to survive in their new confines.  Many battled with horrors leaking up from the bowels of the earth, while others collapsed into the chaos of fighting amongst themselves.  Fifty years ago the vaults doors opened, allowing the survivors to step out into a world that none have seen or touched before.

 

You are a survivor of one such vault, located in the wild and savage jungle of the southern continent of a world that is completely unknown to you.  Many survivors busy themselves by fighting off hordes of vile creatures and abominations while slowly rebuilding the fallen city of Vabittra piece by piece.  Others defend the vaults from enemies that leak up from the underdark, or venture into the underdark themselves looking for much needed ore and material for the city’s reconstruction.  While others, and those that tend to be the most suicidal, venture into the wilds, mapping out the surrounding territories, delving into ancient ruins in the hopes of finding some trinket of worth or piles of gold.

Angkor Wat

The massive and ruined city of Vabittra.

Angkor- Lost city 3 Angkor- Lost city 2

 

 

Meta-information

Available Races

Dwarf (both sub-races available)

Elf (only wood elf and drow)

Halfling (both sub-races available)

Human

Deva (only one per campaign)- There are 10 Deva in Vabittra, which is where the Deva hail from as their capital.  They claim to be the last of the deva on the planet.

Gnomes- Nope…  Not located in this part of the world

Half-elf

Half orc

Shifter

Tiefling

 

Available Classes

 

Barbarian

NO BARDS

Clerics- The touch of the divine is gone in the world.  Clerics now enter into the servitude of spirits of the world.  The manner of the spirit represents the domain that the cleric chooses.  Clerics will be called upon to do favors or leave offerings to the spirits.  Angering or denying the spirit its pleasures will result in the cleric losing class abilities until they atone.

Druid- tend to be more savage and hostile since the world has been corrupted.

Fighter- Occult Slayer as well as other fighter paths in PHB.

Monk- One school of monk survived in the vault, the Silver Skull (all three paths available- each representing an aspects of the skull- way of the open hand, right eye; way of the shadow, left eye; way of the four elements, mouth).

Paladin- Not available.  The orders of paladin have been lost

Ranger- Undead slayer and Arcane archer in addition to archetypes in book

Rogue- All good in the hood.

Sorcerer- bloodlines available- wild magic (PHB), bloodmagic and Oracle

Warlock- Ok

Wizard- Very few wizards exist as the knowledge has been all but lost in the chaos leading up to the vaults.  In Vabittra there are 8 wizards of note, each with two apprentices (if a player desires to be a wizard- apprentice you shall be).

 

Goal- Players rediscover areas lost to chaos and time, delve into the underdark and discover new territories, sources of ore, ruins, etc. or help retake the massive fallen city of Vabittra, which (except for a few areas that have been reclaimed in the last 50 years) is largely a hostile set of ruins that are filled with monsters, forgotten knowledge, and items.  Death, mutilation, and mutation are constant (even in 5e) threats, but dammit they’ll have fun trying.

Borderlands 1

 

Monster

The campaign will be a high octane meat grinder action adventure of exploring a world that no one knows about, discovering interesting and terrible relics best left forgotten- encountering creatures and monsters that are unknown, and shaping the world with every action.  New factions and government will sprout up as people vie for power, supplies, territories, and material.  Metal weapons are cherished as most use bone, chitin, and the like.  Metal is highly sought after as it is rare (mines have been lost after the world “ended” after all).

 

 

The campaign model will support a regular Google + group, a live group, and possible flailsnails games.

Inspiration- Indiana Jones, Jez Gordon’s “Welcome to the Jungle setting, Earthdawn, Dark Sun, Unsettled Expanse (Hubris), Vornheim, Skyrim, Dragon Age, Dark Souls, and Borderlands


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