Tag Archives: setting

Treasury of Games: Erriapus Harvester Post A58.

This irregular satellite of Saturn was captured and nudged into a more stable orbit to provide a staging area for harvester barges making runs up and down the gas giant’s gravity well. Saturn’s atmosphere and rings provide rich sources of a variety of elements and minerals, essential to the Solar system’s heavy industry. It’s also a battleground, the first place extrasolar fleets coming for humanity’s homeland must secure. Historically, no fleet which failed to secure Saturn’s harvester posts succeeded in claiming Terra. Currently, the debris of past battles is just one more resource to harvest.

The post is run by an old spacer named Garth. He comes across as a solid, stubborn, capable organizer. Stubborn he is, but though he trades heavily on his reputation for having held the post through the past two wars and three attempted invasions in the course of them, he tends to overcompensate for the way technical details of engineering have outpaced him by using bureaucratic details to frustrate others. Ship captains don’t look forward to having to submit requests to him, because they inevitably come back two or three times for clarifications or corrections. However, his crew like him because of his quick and jovial wit, and this makes him popular with not only the few others on the post but the barge captains who work with him enough to know the quirks of how he wants the paperwork done.

The newest barge captain to come out to Saturn’s rings is Hyman Ward. A 19-year-old graduate of the Ares Piloting Academy on Syria Planum, Ward is a shining example of the first class to come out of that school, founded at the end of the Solar-Gliesean conflict 5 years ago. He has an open and forgiving command style, while still keeping his crew of six adhering to regulations and getting the job done. His major flaw is his naïvete, a trait which old Garth finds endless amusement in by turning the boy’s head with pranks and tall tales.

Possible dangers or encounters at the harvester post:

  • One of Garth’s pranks went a little too far, and Ward’s barge ended up losing engine power. It’s falling towards Saturn!
  • A leftover mine from the last war was mistaken for scrap metal, and it went off inside the harvester post. Can anyone be saved from this catastrophic mishap?
  • All transmissions from the post have cut out. What’s wrong? They could be jammed because of an incoming attack, or it could be a simple electrical problem.

Treasury of Games: Contains Unsavory Illustrations

Some books are banned for good reasons. The Comics Code Authority was founded by conservative moralists, but it found a greater purpose than censoring skin and blood. On rare occasions, something dangerous to more than the morals of children would be published, if not for a small team within the CCA. The “unsavory illustrations” label sometimes has this deeper meaning: that the publication so labeled has been censored to remove images with real magical meanings.

Naturally, when subversive cults or warlocks look to publish their spell-symbols to put into effect some grand-scale ritual or to alter the minds of millions or whatever the reason, they would rather not see their publication censored by the authority. However, none of the major distribution channels will pick up a non-CCA-approved publication, so the scope of other publications is limited to local markets. The team in the CCA is independent and can’t help with local problems directly, they specialize in recognizing occult symbols so they can ensure none get into mass publication.

The CCA symbol has been modified over the years to contain a hidden cipher. It serves dual purposes – as a warning to rogue occultists seeking to publish damaging materials, and as an offer to other groups seeking to curb those publications. The CCA occult team exists to prevent the widespread distribution of materials which could cause memetic contagion or a massive reality altering event. Though they can’t reach directly to at-risk communities and the hiding places of the warlocks who might publish these materials, they can offer resources to like-minded groups who might be able to do something, while deterring the less venturesome cults from raising their heads. The message of the cipher to those who can decode it is, “We are watching.”

It may be an empty message, but the team does what they can to provide information to others like them who fight against the darkness.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Dragon Altar

A cliff overlooking the eastern sea, six miles from the town of Layton (known for the roast boar prepared at the inn of the Bowman’s Pony), “Dragon Altar” is said to be where kings and queens of old were joined together by no lesser officiant than a true dragon. A weathered stone monument at the highest point describes the ritual in the ancient tongue of dragons. Only a few scholars can read the marks in this fallen age, but the ritual not only binds two souls in matrimony, but involves the dragon’s pledge to protect them and their lands. Since it is said that when dragons pronounce their own speech, the words are magic itself, enforcing the truths pronounced by the dragon, the ritual is thought to have made a mystical connection between the dragon, the monarchs, and the land. Some scholars believe this accounts for the reported longevity of these ancient rulers, when they were not killed in battle.

Sadly, dragons have been absent from the land for many years. When the king from beyond the eastern sea came with his men and ships and the power of foreign gods and conquered the land, his people knew nothing about the traditions linking the dragons and the kingdom, save that dragons were in service to their enemies. Then, later, the remaining dragons were seen as feral menaces to be eliminated, because they had lost their connection with the land and the people had forgotten the traditions which would have made dragons their allies. Now, dragons are legends, and haven’t been seen near these settled lands in generations.

Weddings are still held at the Dragon Altar cliffs, though, in front of the slab where the words most cannot read are inscribed. High ranking officials of the land travel to these cliffs to be seen honoring the old traditions, not knowing what those really were. If a pair were to find a true dragon and enact the true wedding ritual of this altar, they could obtain a connection with the land which has been absent for centuries. Besides being able to command the loyalty of a dragon, the lands belonging to a pair so mated will be blessed with fertility (as will the pair themselves). The humans in the bargain gain the ability to properly pronounce the speech of dragons, and thus perform magic in their way. The dragon gains the ability to transform into a human at will, and may dominate the minds of any humans who owe loyalty to the pair it is joined to. The three may speak to each other in the tongue of dragons at any distance as well, though they may not lie in that speech – for attempting to do so will levy a curse, because peaking in dragon language makes magic, and speaking lies in it will thus twist the speaker. Dragons might learn to lie to each other without twisting themselves, but between those bound by oath at Dragon Altar, the oath ensures any lies among the three will be punished. Some possible ways the liar might be twisted:

1 Hears all speech as lies.

2 Sees people who are not there occasionally.

3 Fails to see people who are there occasionally.

4 Can’t hear people who aren’t first perceived by another sense.

5 Colors are muted and hard to distinguish.

6 Both eyes change to random colors, and hair changes color and natural shape.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Eukelade Launch Station EH-5679

This military space station serves as a staging base for capital ships. Located at the edge of its owner’s recognized borders in space, the station orbits a protostar in a nebula, making it difficult to observe comings and goings from it. The nebula also offers a rich fuel source. Eukelade Nebula is an energy-rich environment where synthesizing antimatter is relatively cheap, because the station collects plenty of hydrogen to fuel its fusion plant (with which it generates antimatter, in the form of anti-hydrogen). The station is unarmed, but always servicing at least one capital warship, and therefore not unprotected even should an enemy locate and target it.

Eukelade is home to multiple launch stations orbiting multiple proto-stars within the nebula. EH-5679 is the furthest out of them. It is home to a crew of 5: a commander, two communication/sensors operators, and two fusion plant/antimatter fuel engineers. These officers serve 6-month shifts isolated on the station together, then are replaced with a fresh crew. Usually the same crew won’t be reassigned straight to another launch station after their rest period (a month’s leave followed by a month of training to keep skills up to date), but it does occasionally happen. In the case of EH-5679, the current crew requested to be reassigned to a launch station together after their last leave, having served a stint together twice previously. They have formed a bond and don’t mind being isolated together, and see this post as a good way to avoid front line duty. Since the fleet needs competent crews to man these combined listening post/refueling stations, this form of service is perfectly acceptable to the higher ranks who make the assignments.

Commander Atchison is a reserved woman. She prefers a minimum amount of human interaction in her day; she made command rank by her meticulous efficiency which allows her to achieve this despite making sure all her subordinates had all the information and instructions necessary to complete their tasks, and passing on all relevant information up the chain of command. She is also an expert in multiple technical fields, including all operations necessary at EH-5679. Her relationship with her crew seems distant, but she appreciates that they have learned not to bother her needlessly, and they appreciate that she efficiently takes care of them. The commander has deftly pulled strings in the past for her crew, and they trust her to be able to move heaven and earth with a flick of her fingers should they need it. She also covers for her crew’s fraternization – their romances are against regulations, but Atchison doesn’t mind as long as their duties aren’t affected.

Lieutenant Frazetta and Lieutenant Harvey are the comms/sensor operators. The men share a kiss whenever they change shifts, though they save any more intimate displays of affection for their leave time. Frazetta is 35, and a 15 year veteran of the service. Harvey is 22, having only met Frazetta when they were first assigned to a Eukelade station together under commander Atchison; it was Harvey’s first assignment out of the academy. Lt. Frazetta is excellent with comms operation, having the long experience with communications equipment to know a grab bag of tricks for improving signal quality and reducing information loss. Harvey, on the other hand, is better with analyzing sensors output. His schooling is more recent and up to date, and he’s talented at the kind of math required to figure out what sensor readings actually mean. Each one is competent at the other job as well, but only excellent in one part.

Lieutenants Yu and Enfield are a married couple. They were married before they joined the service, and acquired an exemption order to allow their marriage. Both are PhDs in fusion and antimatter engineering. They typically have boring jobs, because the equipment is automated and as long as it’s working properly, so they spend a lot of time refining their hobbies. Yu has taught herself tattoo application, mostly using her own body as a canvas. Her husband composes poetry.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Rooftop Death Arena

The east side isn’t a nice place. It’s been described as a “war zone” in the news, and given the gangs going after each other with automatic weapons, that seems apt. However, the more powerful gangs are organized enough to have leaders who realize that large scale armed conflict is bad for everyone. That doesn’t mean they’re throwing away their guns – it just means they’ve set up a common system to resolve disputes between gang members of rival gangs. Without getting the law involved, of course. The cops are everyone’s enemy, here.

Any grievance can be brought to trial by combat. The two parties must each be members of gangs who participate in the arena, and their leaders must agree the grievance is legitimate. The leaders of the respective groups will negotiate the terms of the battle – one on one or a small group skirmish, unarmed or with certain weapons, on which roof, and to what end: first fall, first blood, submission/unconsciousness, or death. Once the trial is complete, the losing side makes any restitution required by the agreement between the groups’ leaders, and the matter must never be brought up again by either side or the gangs are responsible for punishing those who do so.

Of course, grudges will be held, and the arena hosts a cycle of revenge drama. Toughs looking to avenge their fallen buddies simply must wait for some new slight or excuse before issuing a new challenge. Since the grievance is just as sore on the other side, such an excuse is sure to come along. Yet, the punishments for stepping out of line are enough to discourage outright brawling or gunfights in the streets, for the most part. The arena focuses the aggression of the young gangsters. Gang leaders know this, so they frequently grant requests for challenges, though less frequently death challenges. Non-lethal challenges happen many times a day, while fights to the death are reserved for tensions which would otherwise boil over into much more violence. Still, death battles happen about once a month.

The action in the rooftop arena is recorded and sold online. Access to the live streams of the nonlethal battles is available via subscription; the death challenges are available only by mail on DVD, because the gangs are savvy enough not to post direct evidence of their countenancing murder online where their origin IP could be traced. If it ends up online somehow, they can claim it was staged and no officer, there was no murder – someone would’ve pressed charges, surely! Sometimes the deception extends to introducing the officer to the “actor” who was “in makeup” to appear to be the loser in the video, whose “death” was entirely fake and staged. So far, the police have not cracked a case on the killings in the death arena, but some detectives keep their eyes out, watching and waiting for a slip. Rights to the revenue of a fight’s streaming and recording go to the winning gang. The fighters receive a portion, and the rest goes to the leaders.

A certain bloodthirsty class of sports fan follows the death arena, and the events draw live crowds. Numbering somewhere around a hundred for each fight, these spectators especially love submission and death duels. The bookmakers share the opinion of the crowd, because the more excited the spectators, the more they bet on the fights. Far more cash changes hands in the betting than in the direct revenue of the streaming, recording, or even the charge made on the spectators for entry. When the fight lasts to submission (which most commonly means someone is beaten senseless), the bets are about double the usual. If it’s to the death, ten times as much cash flows, and about five times as many spectators show up. Some of these spectators are locals to the neighborhood, but most of them are wealthy criminals with interests in the activities of the gangs, taking advantage of this neighborhood’s unique system for resolving disputes for their own entertainment.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Annihilation Pool

There is a shallow pool (just deep enough to submerge a person of average height to the shoulders) in a tidal hollow, ten miles from the nearest town. The location is known to a sect of monks who revere the place as holy.  They make spiritual journeys to the place as a form of ritual purification. The monks know the place as the “purifying tide,” but the rest of the locals call it the “annihilation pool.”

The pool itself is clear, and fresh water despite the tide flowing into it again and again. No animals exist in it, not even their bones, not even insects or other small creatures. Any which stray in vanish and are never seen again, and most instinctively stay clear. People fare differently. When a sentient being enters the pool, the magic in it reflects the person’s inner desires. Because nonsentient animals are entirely a collection of hungers and needs, they are consumed to feed the magic. People have a variety of desires, though, and some are less destructive than base selfish hungers. Surviving a dip in the pool requires either a buddha-like freedom from all desire, or an outward-focused altruism or protective desire which sacrifices the self in favor of the good of others. The monks who regularly visit the pool are sometimes entirely hairless – this reflects early failures to achieve a freedom from all desire before entering the pool. However, all the surviving monks have at least eliminated most of their earthly desires. Entering the pool with any selfish earthly desires in your mind causes it to burn like acid, consuming you from the outside in. The stronger your desires, the more of you is consumed. The best of the monks with complete divestment of their earthly desires have no scars because entering with no desires at all is simply a pleasant bath.

A dip for a truly altruistic or heroically protective individual is different: the pool will deplete some of its store of magic to heal and bless the character who meets these criteria. Wounds up to and including recent death (within the past day) can be healed, and the blessing conforms to the others-focused desires the character holds. If the character is generally altruistic, then from now on, they gain a small amount of luck (about +5% chance of success) whenever their action would help someone else. If their desires are to protect someone or something, then the blessing applies only to that endeavor, and is more powerful for being more focused (more like a +20% chance to succeed at appropriate actions). This aspect of the pool is not well known, and only the elder monks know of it; with a very good relationship with said elders, they will share the story of a man who fell in battle protecting the town from coastal raiders. His grieving loved ones took his bod to the pool to set it in there to be dissolved, hoping to keep it out of the hands of the raiders who would have disrespected him by stringing his corpse up to discourage others from fighting back. However, the pool’s magic reflected their pure love and respect for their guardian, and his love for and desire to protect them in return. He was restored to health, whole and hale, and returned to town and drove the raiders off for good. The healing effects have also been noted from time to time on monks who are more kindhearted and generous in relieving the suffering of those outside the order than usual (not all in the sect believe in this practice, but some believe that relieving suffering is necessary to ultimately free the world from harmful desires).

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.