Coronado, Gateway to the Deathlands of Alb

The starting town for my Doom Lords of the Atomic Undercity campaign.

Coronado straddles a 100-lane Megahighway-of-Tomorrow that leads to the Deathlands of Alb, beneath which lies the Atomic Undercity of the Doom Lords. The city is ruled by a mysterious being known as the Overmind, who seems universally loved by the populace despite having never been seen. Unlike most other settlements out in the wastes, Coronado welcomes humans, mutants, and robots within its walls, though it does relegate them to slums within the city’s hierarchy. However, under the Overmind’s guidance, Coronado has become the major trading post for technology scavenged from the nearby deathlands and the Atomic Undercity. As a result, factions from the Deathlands of Alb and beyond operate here, no doubt scheming nefariously.

 

Coronada Map.jpg

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Gamma Warrior (class)

The first class for my up-and-coming Doom Lords of the Atomic Undercity campaign.

Gamma Warrior
Req: None
Prime: Strength
Hit Die: d8
Attacks: as Fighter
Saves: as Fighter, +2 versus Radiation/Wands

Across the Earth’s mutated biomes, the techno-savage hordes war over the irradiated debris of fallen civilizations while vile practitioners of Super Science and Sorcery awaken the lost and forgotten dooms of humankind. But amid the slag of the ruined cities stands the Gamma Warriors, a new breed ready to battle the inhuman terrors that stalk this barbaric new age, whether for wealth, for glory, or hope for a new age.

Level Experience Title Hit Dice
1 0 Half-lifer 2d8
2 2,201 Wasteland Savage 3d8
3 4,401 Marauder of the Wastes 4d8
4 8,801 Waste Blaster 5d8
5 18,001 Waste Master 6d8
6 36,001 Techno-Barbarian 7d8
7 72,001 Techno-Warrior 8d8
8 144,001 Techno-Slayer 9d8
9 288,001 Gamma Warrior 10d8
10 400,001 Atomic Warlord 11d8

You Only Got One Half-life – The Atomic Undercity and the wastes that surround it forgive neither weakness nor the meek. Gamma Warriors can attempt whacky and/brutal feats of foolishness during combat like overheating a plasma pistol and chucking it like a grenade, manhandling a mutant’s head to aim its eyebeam lasers at enemies, or wrenching the buzzsaw arm-blades from a murderbot and wielding them himself. The Gamma Warrior’s ability to succeed at these feats depends on his level:

Lvl.      Roll
1-3        2-in-6
4-7        3-in-6
8-10      4-in-6

Survival Specialization – Every Gamma Warrior must specialize to survive the terrors of the wastes and the Atomic Undercity. When creating a Gamma Warrior, either roll or pick one of the specializations below:

1d8 Survival Specialization
1 Brute of the Wastes – After defeating a foe in melee, your Gamma Warrior can strike another enemy within range with a melee, thrown weapon, or one-handed ranged weapon that is in hand.
2 Scavenged Armor – This Gamma Warrior can pimp their armor with whatever they scavenge from the ruins, adding a -1 bonus to armor class (max -3) for every modification made to armor. (Genre logic and GM approval required.)
3 Technosavagery – Once per day, whenever your Gamma Warrior fails a technology roll when dealing with advanced weaponry, armor, or combat-related tech, he may re-roll.
4 The Riddle of Rust – Every 3 levels (3, 6, 9, etc.), your Gamma Warrior chooses a unique weapon (one he’s made or scavenged) and applies a +1 to hit/dmg with that particular weapon. If the weapon is lost, it can be replaced with one of the same type. Bonuses may stack or apply to new weapons.
5 By Rad’s 3rd Gonad! – When suffering the mutagenic effects of radiation, this Gamma Warrior may roll twice on the mutation table and pick whichever mutation they like, as they tell the Great God Rad, “Come at me, bro!” He also begins with one class 1 beneficial mutation and 1 class 1 drawback, either physical or mental. Both mutations are randomly determined and the rule above for rolling twice applies.
6 Demigod of the Wastes – Either through runaway sexual selection or environmental contamination in the womb, your Gamma Warrior is bigger and badder than all others and probably wears a lot of leather and spikes while he’s at it. Use d10 for hit die instead of d8. This Gamma Warrior also gains a +2 on saves versus poison and disease.
7 Cyborg – You gain one class 1 mutation that works like a robot’s component (see the Murderbot! class), which can be replaced with other robotic components. Also, choose one ability score and gain a +1 bonus but explain it away with appropriate Super Science.
8 Never Go It Alone – This Gamma Warrior never leaves home without his best friend, who happens to be a vicious mutant predator. Start the game with a companion who is a non-intelligent mutant animal. Roll for two class 1 physical mutations and one class 2 physical or mental mutation and design the companion animal from there. The companion starts with two hit dice but gains a new hit dice at every 3 levels (3, 6, 9, etc.). The Gamma Warrior and his companion have an empathic bond of 100’.

Spear! Fang! Raygun! (Attribute/Ability Score Generation)

A few months ago I started an Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign I was calling Spear! Fang! Raygun! which centered around “pantless barbarians”–basically ultra-cliche badass heavy metal inspired barbarians in woolly triceratops fur loincloths and boots and helms adorned with the horns of the Shaggy Hellcows of Crom!–and their adventures in the lost world-ish, dimensionally permeable realm of the Forlorn Plateau. (A very special snowflake campaign, obviously.) PCs ranged from Fly Stargroove, a jive knight who used the Funk, to Murrl, a monk devoted to Ar’nuuld! the Mightily Thewed and trained at the Golden Domed Gym. Anyway, you get the idea. I also stole the name “Pantless Barbarian” from Chris Kutalik outright. Sorry, Chris.

Putting this together, I made a bunch of special character creation rules and added a Luck attribute to the game. I wanted to share all of that here since someone may get some use or inspiration out of it. I’ll be dropping these piece by piece so as not to overwhelm.

So here’s the first article in the series.

Ability Scores Generation

Ability scores for Player Characters in the Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaign may be generated according to one of the following methods. It is the player’s choice which to use.

Worthy of Crom!

barbarian dude

To generate ability scores as Crom! intended, use the following method:

    • Roll 3d6 straight down, assigning results in order.
    • Roll a 1d6, add points to ability scores however (but no score may exceed 18)

 

  • Worthy of Crom! – Accept what the universe has given you and make something of it! Crom! cares not for the weak and snowflakey, only those who are worthy and that means you! The character gains a +2 bonus to Luck. Additionally, the following two rules apply to characters using this method:
  • Crom! Grant Me this One Request! – 1d3 times per a year (this roll is secret, only known to the DM), he may call on Crom! for assistance (whether that be to grant you revenge or make it with the Sexy Giant Cave Amazon queen, it doesn’t matter) and Crom! will answer (the DM will intervene in your favor).* After the character has reached the limit of his worthiness, for a year and a day from the last intervention, Crom! is displeased with his weakness, so to hell with you! (You now suffer the To Hell with You! curse below and lose the +2 bonus to Luck.)
    *In order to call upon Crom! you must give an impromptu, dramatic monologue worthy of the gloomy god. If you fall to do so, then To Hell with You!–you immediately suffer from the curse below.

 

    • To Hell with you! – Crom! suffers not the weakling, the whiner, the seeker of handouts! Your character is cursed by Crom! for not being able to pull himself up by his own sandlestraps! Whenever you are in Crom!’s domain (or what Crom! considers his domain), you may be called upon to make Tests of Luck or Extraordinary Feats of Luck at random, totally arbitrary intervals, suffering grave and/or hilarious consequences in the event of failure (of a sort entirely meaningless and as a result of an uncaring universe).

Unworthy of Crom!

To generate ability scores as a pansy and feel the cold, stern neglect of Crom!, use the following method:

  • For each ability score, you start with a 3d6 but may assign additional die from a dice pool of seven d6 dice.
  • Decide how you want to arrange the dice pool among your rolls. For example, an array could be 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6 or 10d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6 or 5d6, 5d6, 6d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, etc.
  • Once you have distributed your dice pool, roll for your scores, taking the highest three points for each roll and adding them.
  • Distribute the scores however you wish.

Unworthy of Crom! –  Crom! suffers also not the writer of extravagant, meaningful backgrounds! Your character  (perhaps rightly) believes he is destined to leave his mark upon the world but Crom! finds only those worthy who achieve greatness via the sheer, uncaring randomness of the universe! But you may still attempt Crom! Grant Me this One Request! as above except it only works if you succeed at an Extraordinary Feat of Luck. Failure, though, means that Crom! will curse you for your groveling.  (The nature of this curse is up to the DM). Additionally, upon failure you immediately suffer the effects of To Hell with You! for a year and a day, at which point you may try to call upon Crom! once again, though the curse may or may not be lifted.

Shirriffs and Bounders

To begin, here are the design concepts  of the Southfarthing Confidential, a halfling police procedural game/setting I’m writing:

Shirriffs and Bounders

Re-reading the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring about a year back, it dawned on me that I had never seen anyone do anything, as far as I was and am aware, game-wise with the concept of halfling policemen. Ol’ J.R.R. writes about the ‘Shirriffs’ in “Of the Ordering of the Shire:

‘The Shirriffs was the name that the Hobbits gave to their police, or the nearest equivalent they possessed. They had, of course, no uniforms (such as things being quite unknown), only a feather in their caps; and they were in practice rather haywards than policemen, more concerned with the strayings of beasts than of people. There were in all the Shire only twelve of them, three in each Farthing, for Inside Work. A rather larger body, varying at need, was employed to “beat the bounds”, and to see that Outsiders of any kind, great or small, did not make themselves a nuisance.

At the time when this story begins the Bounders, as they were called, had been greatly increased. There were many reports and complaints of strange persons and creatures prowling about the borders, or over them: the first sign that all was not quite as it should be, and always had been except in tales and legends of long ago.’

Wow! Somehow, in the dozen or so times I’ve probably read that prologue, this never quite stood out to me as prominently as it did this once. I’d encountered the idea of halfling guards or policemen-like operators only one other time in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game career of ‘fieldwarden.’ I’m not familiar enough with the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game to say if there is anything there about, but I’ll be investigating that soon.

My first impulse was to run a Middle-earth campaign set in the shire where the PCs were bounders, but quickly the whole idea sounded really boring–lots of fighting off dwarves, goblins, and men. That didn’t really sound all that exciting and to be honest, I’m not a very serious person and while halflings are inherently hilarious, this wasn’t doing it for me. Then it hit me: pipeweed!

Pipeweed Prohibition

Back when Peter Jackson’s movies came out I remember a lot of jokes about Old Toby’s purported mildly hallucinogenic effects, which is, of course, entirely untrue, but I digress. Still, the halfling love of the leaf was an interesting element, seeing that Tolkien had just devoted an entire section of the prologue to it, as well. So, I wondered, what if pipeweed was more marijuana-like, or at least, what if it came to be seen as a social ill among the Shirefolk?

Quickly, the whole idea of setting this in the Shire was dropped, and I started thinking of the consequences of pipeweed being made illegal. Not by any leap of the imagination this led to the idea of organized crime, increased police (Shirriff) funding, and the idea that Bounders (having jurisdiction across and outside the Farthings) were pretty much G-men. Then what about dwarves? They were more accepted into the halfling lands than others, but it was clear they weren’t exactly welcome…

It all started to come together. All it needed was a bit of a push. Halflings always had that shtick in games of being slightly not on the up-and-up anyway. So why not take the bucolic wonderland of the Shire and its almost Elysium-like pastures and treat it as if it were really as sleazy as 1970s NYC or ’80s Miami?

Of course, this was absolutely ridiculous, but somehow it made so, so much sense. Halfling mafioso and cow-path pushers. Hardboiled halfling shirriffs whose experience chasing roving cattle has given them the tools to take them on. Or the younger Shirriffs like the loose sling who, at any moment, might go over the edge. Or the gloomy bounder who’s close to being discovered after years working ‘underhill.”

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’

art_fleeing

Yeah, this was the shit. But I had to find a way to make it work. So that’s what I’ll be doing in this blog (some of the times). Any ideas anyone has to throw my way are appreciated. So far I’ve ran a brief campaign using D&D 5th ed. and a con game at NTRPG Con. They were both well-received and a lot of fun. I might start up an online game, too, for the purpose of working things out. If anyone is interested, I’ll definitely be looking for players.

Back into the Thick of Things

As a couple of you might’ve noticed, I dropped out of the RPG scene (minus playing in a couple of G+ crowd games online–though not as many as I’d like) for the past few months and neglected a bit of map work, as well. I blame a lack of personal responsibility and the vagaries resulting from a new (thought not more demanding) job.  In the meantime, though, my map work for Jacob Hurst’s Swordfish Islandswhich just had a successful Kickstarter campaign and is now being delivered, has finally seen the light of day.

What’ll be different:

  1. I got burned out on mapmaking. After a couple years, I got bored with them, so I won’t be posting a lot of maps. Nor will I be begging for money for (poorly delivered) content via Patreon.
  2. Instead of maps, I’ll be posting a range of things: game ideas, RPG content, some maps, and a lot about an RPG setting/rule set I plan to write called Southfarthing Confidential, which is a game about halfling (don’t use the other H-word) sheriffs who have to deal with the criminal fallout of pipeweed prohibition in the Five Farthings.
  3. I’ll also be talking about ideas from the games I’m currently running at home and online. My current roster includes: Spear! Fang! Raygun! (my home-brew AS&SH campaign that’s a mix of He-ManConan, and Hanna-Barbera), a Deadlands-ish weird western, a home-brew Traveller game, and my G+/Roll20 Metamorphosis Alpha-inspired Mutual of Omaha Starship Vonnegut campaign, which has been running for a year now with only a couple players.
  4. This won’t follow a regular schedule. I’ll post when I post. But I plan on being more active again in the community; hopefully, that’ll lead to some fun games and DIY endeavors.

All right, that’s it. You can likely expect a real “first post” in the coming week.