Where’s Judd?

These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

I’ll update this as more comes up.


In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.

Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast


In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.

The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast


Into the Vault is a Burning Wheel game streamed on the Actual Play twitchstream channel. Here’s the Youtube Playlist, also embedded below.

I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played in wondrous games.


Rebel Crown Youtube Playlist

Another wonderful game on the Actual Play twitch channel. The Witch-Queen Cael is out to claim the throne from her corrupt usurper Uncle. Forged in the Dark medieval throne grabbing…


I’ve been playing this play-by-post style asynchronous games using the Burned Over Apocalypse World Hackbook with Daniel and Jay (different games, probably in the same world). Below are the playlists linked and embedded.

Minotaur Civil War and Current Events

From Module to Incursion

I wrote a twitter thread about tonight’s game and I thought that got it out of my system but no, there’s more rattling around for me to chew on.

(NOTE: I’m re-reading this blog post and watching myself try to write a normal actual play post and failing to filter out how odd and wrong everything is right now. Maybe because it feels surreal to be gaming right now. There is going to be a game soon when I turn to my friends and say something like, “See you next game; I hope we’re still gaming in a democracy-shaped republic.”)

Thunderspire Labyrinth offered the inspiration – the treasure-hunters chasing a group of shitty people (in this case human traffickers who sold people to ghouls for food and slavery). The shitty people ran into the ruins of a minotaur city, said to be cursed and devil-haunted – you know, the usual.

The module itself was a bit too much for me, so I distilled it down to 5 sets, grabbing names and details from the module as needed:

  • Saruun Khel’s Gate
  • The Lantern Road
  • The Great Stair
  • The Flooded City
  • The Thunderspire Peak

Here’s the full write-up if you want to see what I worked off of today.

I wanted the players to know that there was more than one way in, so I made the goal of the first set: Decide how you want to enter Saruun Khel. The players were savvy. They watched the ravens flying around the gate, noticed that the older ravens refused to enter and only the younger ravens went in at all.

Saruun Khel

I’m not sure why a fantasy story about a beautiful city, full of bullish folk who worshipped labyrinthine choice and devils and demons falling to civil war because of the worship of a selfish liar full of secrets would appeal to me right now.

Drew made his Hunt roll to know the history of the place. His none-too-bright former gladiator knew the history of Saruun Khel because there was a gladitorial game based on the city’s civil war. Love it.

Sometimes Trophy Gold’s Hunt rolls call on the GM to say something the players find that is terrifying. Sometimes they find what they are looking for but still, run across something terrifying. It isn’t always a monster encounter.

When Revel was looking for a map of the city, I had to offer something terrifying.

“Here’s what is terrifying. This city was really beautiful. It was an architectural marvel, a flittering jewel in this mountain and now it is a flooded ruin. Now it is nothing but a dungeon to loot because of civil war.”

Yeah, it is obvious that shit is on my mind.

Griffons and Dragons

There was another cool moment where Revel charged a griffon. It was a dangerous move and Drew knew it. The actions of the other two characters entirely saved his ass. Rasei fired arrows at it and I had archery as a weakness of griffons – John had his character, Theoden do something so smart that I wrote it down as a new weakness. He used a spell to imitate a dragon call.

Of course griffons would be scared of dragons; it is the only predator above them on the food chain in the mountains. Those two actions, both utilizing weaknesses, dipped the griffon’s Endurance so that their roll defeated it.

I’d like to take this moment to say that describing a griffon dragging a goat up onto an 8 foot rock and eating it was fun. Giant eagle maw cracking bones and horns and hooves; the sound of it must be terrifying. That was a fun GM moment.

I knew there was a dragon in the Tomb Mountains but didn’t know if it was awake. Today I found out it was awake now. John’s character, Theoden, imitated a dragon-call to scare the griffon and then a few Hunt rolls demanded something terrifying.

Yup, dragon’s awake. What would wake up a dragon fast? A dragon-call. Mountain ranges aren’t big enough for two dragons.

I decided there was a scholar from the capital studying griffons in the peak.

The Big Score

Drew’s ex-gladiator said, “Where do minotaur store their taxes?”

The city is entirely flooded. The tombs are on hilltops, so they only have knee-deep water in them but the rest of the mountain is a big moongator tank. One can see the tops of towers and cathedral spires in the murky water. The players are thinking about ways to drain that water or freeze it and dig through the ice.

I had a panicked second – what would I do if they drained Saruun Khel?

It was a short second of panic. Here’s what I’d do.

In Trophy Gold you are saving up to get 50 gold and achieve your drive. What if they drained the minotaur city and defeated whatever was still guarding the city streets?

What if I just said, “Good job, you all achieve your Drives. Roll up new characters. You see a city just opened up called New Khel and adventurers are flocking to it. From this metropolis you can go delving in the underdeeps or along the surface of the dragon-haunted Tomb Mountains.”

Maybe they just do it. Maybe they’d just change the world a bit and we’d take some time to adventure in that changed world and see what treasures are worth hunting in it.

Maybe you can build something on the wreckage of a minotaur civil war.

Or maybe they’ll get eaten by the moongator, stalking the floodwaters, a moon-colored monster.

We’ll see.

Vote. Be prepared.

See you on the other side.

Putting SWN Sectors to Use

Stars Without Number written around a black hole.

Razornet Away Team

Not as in, an Away Team but as in, a team that has been away for a while. There are plenty of reasons to have been out of the loop for a while. Here are a a few:

  • Armed Forces Service
  • Incarceration
  • Medical Cryogenic Hypernation
  • Shipwreck survivor
  • Pilgrimmage
  • Refugee

Whatever the reasons you were away, you’re back and either knew the other players from a past crew or job and now were put togther as a Freelance Team in Razornet’s app for enterprising freelancers on the edge of legality.

We’ll talk about what kind of game we want to see. Do you want to have all known each other from you previous enterprise? Maybe you all know each other from time in some Void Marine unit or all survived a shipwreck caused by a malicious alien intelligence…


Terran Mandate Envoy Team

You have just entered the system with a checklist in hand and a vague authority that might or might not be recognized by the governments in this sector. Can you bring the sector back to the bosom of Olde Earth’s government?

Do you want to?

Your commanding officer is jumping to another sector but will be back with the full weight of (TMB) Terran Mandate Battlecruiser Serengeti’s weapons and marines in a year (you hope).

We’ll discuss how your characters all feel about the Terran Mandate government and make an Engagement roll to see how well equipped you are to start. I’m thinking I’d make a roll or two behind the screen to know when the Serengeti will actually arrive and what state it will be in once it does.


Far Traders

Your team just jumped into this system in a rare ship equipped with an Event Horizon-Gate Engine, designed to harness the energy of black holes and turn that energy into jump-gate coordinates that will send you to another black hole near a different sector.

Naming starships is fun.

We’ll make an Engagement roll to see how the ship is doing and how valuable your goods are in the hold and move from there. You’ll stay in this sector for as long as it is profitable to do so before moving on with whatever you can carry. I love the idea of jumping to different sectors, each sector as its own chapter or book or season…


Scrappy

You are representatives in a scrappy government that wants to stay self-governed. Maybe it is a moon or a orbital station or a science station whose original mission has outlasted the government that put it there. Either way, you are a team looking to represent and stay independent in the face of powerful forces all around you.

We’ll look at the map, talk over the Sector’s situation and put your home in a spot that makes sense.


To the Table

I’m thinking about how I might use these SWN Sectors (I’ve got a few more in my drafts section that aren’t quite ready yet) and how I’d pitch those games. The Burned Over playbooks are looking really good to me and so many of SWN’s worlds are in various stages of apocalyptic decline/ascension. Air and water are still a big deal. I don’t think we’d have to change much to make that work.

I’m reading through my Traveller LBB and I’ve got some vague ideas about using that chargen to get background and then Burned Over Playbooks to show what kind of physical shell the character is downloaded into but that all might be too much work.

I’d rather just throw playbooks on the sector map, maybe make up a love letterish (article about Love Letters from a decade ago by John Harper…sure) engagement roll (like in Blades in the Dark) to see what kind of situation the players are starting in and get to playing.


Original picture from 12019 on pixabay


Ducal Moons

Leviathan’s moons call to me!

Moons of Leviathan, cool logo from a cave looking out onto a Gas Giant.

I am imagining the Astrogation Temples, where you go to have your journey mapped. The mapping takes place in empty rooms with vaulted ceilings, where stone moon scultpures are put into motion on hard light holograms.

Why is it a temple? Because all journeys have religious significance. The navigators are trained in anthropological religious studies, helping humans keep in touch with their humanity while traversing the void. They might offer a parable or an argument or sit you down for a meal with a nearby family or offer guided meditation with their coordinates.

Orbital map of the Ducal Moons, being those moons with atmosphere and dockage.

Astrogation computers are available but only used in an emergency. Computers have a rough time around Leviathan. The gas giant’s magnetic radiation wreaks havoc with any complicated computer and A.I. research is strictly forbidden because of the fell effects Leviathan’s pull has on synthetic entities of any kind.

The Ducal Moons are held by the 4 Major Houses: Job, Triton, Rangomai and Mizuchi. In the centuries since their settling, the moons have changed hands a number of times with houses Major and Minor rising and falling on a political tide.

Baikonur was the first moon settled and is held in trust by the Unions and Temple. The Major Houses take turns guarding it, changing every 4 cycles. Baikonur, because of its special place in the orbits, was named for a spaceport on Olde Earth, rather than a nautical port.


Map inspired by the orbit diagrams from this blog post.

Moons of Leviathan

Morgan did his public twitter chargen and he rolled up a Traveller Noble and prodded at me to think about knife fights in space.

And we did.

Dozens of moons surrounding a gas giant with a satanic storm eye moving to and fro. The gas giant is called Leviathan with dozens of moons and enough asteroids in its rings that new moons are still discovered.

There are 4 major houses: Job, Triton, Rangomai and Mizuchi charged with defending the ducal moons with the finest atmospheres with a dozen more houses minor picking up the scraps. Those with noble titles and their knights can wield fighting knives. They are trained with rifle and pistol but the ammunition is controlled by the Unions – laborers, crafters, and engineers who make sure those with title don’t drag everyone into frivolous wars.

War Mechs and Battlecruisers are only unlocked if there is an outside threat.

Alien artifacts on the solid planets closer to the system’s sun.

A science-station observatory at the edge of the system; this is where aging nobles who are found to be too warlike are exiled to.


Oddly, I have two copies of LBB Traveller on my shelves.

How long would I be able to run Traveller before hacking in some Apocalypse World moves?

No idea…


Morgan, I salute you.


Terran Mandate Envoy Re-Entry Checklist

In a perfect Sector re-entry contact scenario your Terran Mandate Bruxelles Class Battlecruiser would glide into dock at the Mandate Base. You would spend a few hours in silent contemplation of the site where humanity made its first landing and then call in the highest ranking naval officer, planetary officials, Perimeter Turing Investigator General, the Chief Exchange Officer, the Sector Archivist into a month-long series of meetings and reports in order to guide humanity back into the Terran Government’s loving arms.

Once that re-entry was complete there would be a sector-wide party.

In decades of envoy work I have never seen nor heard of re-entry going anything like that.

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Since the Scream, the human diaspora has been cut off from its Earth roots. It is unclear if this document comes from Olde Earth or if it has been created by Terran Mandate naval intelligence, passed from long range flotilla to flotilla.

The checklist is a good set of guidelines for long range explorers with spike drives that can venture to different sectors. The marginalia from various envoys over the centuries shows where the checklist can come up short or not offer solid expectations for rookie envoys making post-Scream first contact with the humans who have survived the three hundred years isolated from their homeworld and its government.

Mandate Bases

are sometimes the center of the sector’s government and are often the primary naval base for any ships still claiming to be descended from the Terran Mandate. Gathering up the star drive signatures and transponder data is the first chore so that any envoys sent to the far reaches of the sector will know what to expect.

Marginalia RE: Mandate Bases

The sectors that still have a base are staggeringly rare. When they do, they are often helmed by total [untranslated slang for an orifice]-hole who claims to have their power handed to them directly from Earth’s Prime Minister or some bullshit.

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My favorite Mandate Base was built on the original terran capital ship that settled the sector but it had been turned into a cathedral-ship dedicated to keeping humanity in touch with its terran roots.

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Refused to hand over star drive signatures and transponder data because we couldn’t be a true Terran Mandate ship because were couldn’t possibly be human. We weren’t pure enough in our genetic codes. At least I didn’t feel guilty dropping a battalion of Terran Mandate Marines on their asses.


Perimeter Agencies

are in place to make sure no illegal unbraked A.I.’s are on the loose in the sector. The envoy is to take hold of the hunting records, gaining an understanding of how many A.I.’s have been neutralized and how many hunts are still in progress. The Terran Mandate ship offers its updated search algorithm so that future hunts, based on carefully sifted data, can be completed at a higher rate of success.

Marginalia RE: Perimeter Agencies

Guess which organization AI most often take over when they gain significant power and mobility in the sector. You guessed it. I got in assuming the Perimeter Agency is entirely compromised and work backwards from there.

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We don’t even check to see if they’ve made any improvements to the search algorithm that could be better than ours. We are [difficult to translate synonym for genitalia].

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There’s an envoy theory that Draco wrote this checklist. Yeah, I still use it.


The Exchange Consulate

is the center of banking and diplomacy, is a key cultural touchstone in keeping the sector moving and working.

Marginalia RE: Exchange Consulate

I’m waiting to find that unique Exchange Consulate, where humanity moves past our capitalist bullshit and the Exchange Counselors help ease the sector towards a post-scarcity society. Nope. It is always violence and some bullshit about how we will never innovate without money to drive us on.

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Knowing the market forces at work in the sector is my first order of business. I stop at the Exchange Consulate first. Once I even helped them bombard a planet that had gone into arears on its debts and assumed the Terran Mandate would never come to help the sector’s toothless bank to collect.

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I am sure there is something more satisfying than taking out a laser pistol and shooting a CEO of a predatory corporation who is profiting off human suffering. Maybe true love would be better or ascending our physical world and becoming a being of energy and light.

But I fucking doubt it.


The Preceptor Archive

is where information and history are stored and is important for not only understanding the context that the sector is currently operating in but for sending a full report back to Olde Earth.

Marginalia RE:

We got into orbit and a nanite attack caused the battlecruiser to evaporate. I survived with a few others in an escape pod. When we buried the pod’s dead we made contact with locals. While we figured out each other’s language they understood the olde symbol for the Preceptor Archive. Had to walk halfway across a continent but you are damned right I did. It was a short journey to get to the library and wait out my extraction, ten years later.

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The archive had been attacked and the whole moon it was built into was operating at about steam level technology. The rest of the sector just watched their archive fall apart. I wanted to drop old bombs on the lot of them.

Check out the book is slang for sleeping the archivist liaison. The competition is ferocious on the battlecruiser.



Where is the place to put a check when you uncover a dangerous alien threat or a planet where they lit everything on fire and ascended to a different dimension or when the whole sector is warring with such intensity that they didn’t even notice you?


Perception Checks, an open letter

Dear Gaming,

We need to talk about Perception Checks. How we use them needs to change and it needs to change fast.

We misuse them and adventures grind to a halt because of a missed clue. We misuse them and cool backstory and details go missed. We misuse them and players stop looking for details because when they look in a smart way they are denied the most basic of information because of a bad die roll.

We could blame this on bad adventure design or too much backstory or players not dealing with failure well but I’d rather look more carefully at the easiest fix – the way we frame these rolls.


https://flic.kr/p/icVSEW

Examples


Thiefy McRogue, our example player character, has skulked through the shadows into the villainous Joe BBEG’s office with a combination of smart planning and a solid die roll. Guards are outside and about but none are in the office right now. He has no idea when Joe BBEG might return.

Player: I check the desk.

DM: Roll Investigation.

*RECORD SCREECH SOUND*

STOP.

No.

<< Rewind


Possibility 1

DM: What does that look like? What is Thiefy McRogue doing?

Player: Thiefy knows Joe BBEG likes to put traps into his desks. He hired those trap-makers back in Cool-ass Dragon City. I’m being careful to avoid those traps.

DM: Roll Investigation. If you succeed, I’ll tell you where the traps are and you can tell me what you do about them. If you fail, a trap is going to go off and shit is going to get real, there will be saves and we’ll see what happens from there. * rolls failure and failure again to avoid the dart and failure again to avoid the poison *

Player: Oh shit. Am I dead?

DM: Not yet. You know you have five minutes before the poison takes hold and you start to hallucinate your worst nightmares come to life. What do you do?

Player: Shit, I rampage through the desk to find those plans. Do I roll again?

DM: You rampage, you find them. The noise has alerted the guards and you can hear the alarm going up. You are starting to see things out of the corner of your vision, things your father summoned from the Far Realms when you were a child in his wizard’s tower.

Player: Shit, I’m heading out the window onto the roof (detail established earlier).

DM: You make your way to the roof and the guards are right behind you. Other things are following you and you can’t tell what is real and what is from the drug. Roll to see how fast you make your way across the slate rooves as the guards give chase.

Cool rooftop chase ensues…


Possibility 2

DM: What does that look like? What is Thiefy McRogue doing?

Player: We know Joe BBEG isn’t the type to trap his desk. I don’t care if he knows I was here. I’m quietly but studiously tearing this thing apart. I’m going to find those plans. I know they’re here.

DM: So you don’t care if he knows you were here and found the plans?

Player: I don’t have time to care.

DM: Cool, you find the plans.

Player: But I spent all these points on Investigation? Can I roll?

DM: Totally! Here’s the deal, if you succeed, you are going to find a detail that will give you an advantage die later to use on Joe BBEG. If you fail, maybe Joe will learn something about you and your methods based on how you toss the desk…

Player: Cool. * rolls success *

DM: Do you want to make up the detail that will give you an advantage in combat?

Player: That kinda fucks up my immersion.

DM: No problem, you find notes from a fencing class he’s taking. He’s studying the Devil Blade Style, learning from a Tiefling master who fought in the Devil-Dragon War back when the Tieflings made war on the Dragonborn, pawns between Tiamat warring on Asmodeus.

Player: And I’ll be able to gain an advantage die because I’ll be able to know what he’s going to do based on what I know about that fencing style.

DM: It was the same style your brother used as a Judicial Duellist in Cool-ass Dragon City.

Player: Shit, I know from previously established detail that the guards were going to change in a bit. I’ve waited too long and my safe route back is gone, yeah?

DM: Yeah, that is the cost of taking your time. How are you getting out of here?

Player: I’m going to walk out like I work here and try to bluff it.

DM: Roll.


Possibility 3

DM: What does that look like? What is Thiefy McRogue doing?

Player: I’m going to go through slowly and carefully. I don’t want Joe BBEG to know I was here. We know Joe BBEG doesn’t like traps so I’m not worried about that (detail established earlier, different than above so we can show a different example of failure).

DM: Roll Investigate.

Player: I’ve been putting all my points into that, training hard for this moment. * rolls failure * Shit, I guess I don’t find anything.

DM: You find the plans but haven’t opened the scroll yet when Joe BBEG walks through the office door. He smiles and says, “Thiefy, I thought I had lost you in Cool-ass Dragon City. I’m afraid I can’t allow you to leave with that,” and he’s clearly looking around, just a touch frantic to make sure your friends aren’t here.

Player: Oh shit, that’s right. Wizardly Mageman hit him and his crew with that Fireball in that fight on the docks. I act like Wizardly is invisble nearby, nod to him and yell, “Fireball now!” and use that to get out the window.

DM: You’ll have to jump through the window while it closed. No time…

Player: That is fine. I’ll take some damage?

DM: Yeah, a d6 or so. Roll your Perform Lies skill.

Player: * rolls a wild-ass success *

DM: Bahamut’s sack! That is a wildass success. You jump out the window and take * rolls * 4 damage as Joe BBEG dives for cover. He realizes the ruse fast, though and jumps out the window after you.

Cool rooftop chase ensues…


Get context and description of actions from the player before the dice hit the table, that way you can give consequences that make sense. What is at stake here? Is it a time crunch, getting this done before Joe BBEG comes back? Is it avoiding clever traps? Is it making it look like you were never here? That all depends on the previously established details giving this all context.

As the DM, I’m not looking for the rooftop chase or where this all is going. I don’t need to know the next steps. I don’t need rooftop chase to happen. I think it is cool but I’m not pushing for it.

I’m pushing for sharing details that give the NPC context and personality, give the players the information they need to move forward and offering consequences for the players’ choices. I’m not offering less details and cool shit because of failed rolls. I want to share cool shit. I’m offering consequences and danger.

In Possibility 1, Thiefy might get captured. That is cool. Saving a captured player character is a fun-ass adventure. Joe BBEG might not know how much they know and might have to change his plans at that point. We’ll see. If captured, Thiefy’s player can sit a game out (eh, not my fav) or play a helpful hireling or NPC.

Context, Cool Shit and Consequences at all times.

If the failure results of a roll are boring or not meaningful or stop you from making up cool shit or sharing cool shit, either technique is not being used correctly at the table or the game mechanics aren’t helping you, possibly a combination of both.


An odd night on a barren hill

When I have the energy to do so, I try to write a short synopsis of our Trophy Gold games. The dice kept telling me that strange and terrible things were happening. Who am I to ignore them?

This was tonight’s synopsis:

In which the treasure-hunters made camp on a hill after meeting a lost soul, discussed theology, went to bed for the night, thinking that they would wake up and go plunder the Palace of the Skeleton God with Blackwolf.


The Sisters, gods, devils, and saints of this world had different plans – very different plans.

It was complicated. A goat that had lost its herd instincts entered camp and was accidentally lit on fire – an amorphous blob-beast, drawn to the hill by the sorcery, ate the flaming goat and took on its characteristics. The treasure-hunters fought the flaming goat-blog-man and killed it.


Somewhere in there a god was spoken to in all of its fell, patriarchal glory and a soulless copy of Elezio (Evilezio), an illusion of Elezio brought to life by a sorcerous mishap, gave terrible dating advice to Revel.


Sometimes it just goes like that.


We’ll get to the Palace next week.


“Even by wizard standards that was a pretty fucking crazy night.” – Blackwolf, Wizard

Inspiration Goat Table Techniques #1

I used the above technique in the Thursday night Trophy Gold game and got a wonderful tale from Jesse. He told me about how his orphan pickpocket broke into a noble’s house and had to kill the noble in order to get out.

I loved it because it wasn’t a kill that made the world a better place (well, depending on the noble) and there was a touch of shame in it. This kid was a treasure-hunter because they had lived a tough life and this was the only clear vocation open to them.


Inspiration goat now has a twitter account that will act as a place for me to share these new weekly table techniques and the Daydreaming about Dragons podcast:

Sector Ypsis Rho

Ypsis Rho is a sector recently rocked by a nuclear war having decimated Hrefna, in the Hypsila System, the planet best situated to study and harness the cyclopean energy contained in the sector’s only black hole, XW 397186. The sector’s planets are blessed with breathable air; the planetologists who helped settle these planets are revered as science-saints.

Planetary Guide

Hrefna

On its best days, Hrefna was a frozen rock given atmosphere breathable to humans by a rare mix of invasive fungi, slugs and genetically modified bees bred to spread fungal spores. Shredded by a civil war, Hrefna is suffering from the fallout of a nuclear missile barrage after diplomatic solutions fell apart. Hrefni refugees have emigrated to planets and orbital settlements all over the sector, running from the radiation and soldiers who were selling their services in the Hrefna Civil War.


Valgerg

Valgerg, the Archipelago Planet, is a tropical paradise with remnants of Olde Earth technology so advanced none know their original purpose. What were once universities and science enclaves have become cults of science-priests and artifact prophets known collectively as the Holy Orders of Olde Earth (see Sociological Faction Guide below).

Valgerg was barely settled world, commonly thought of as such because the salvage freelancers looking for pretech made it a violent place. The Holy Orders are trying to change that, regulating how pre-tech is sought out and making it illegal to smuggle pre-tech artifacts off-planet without expensive export visas.


Manthyi

The storm planet has cyclopean obelisks along the equator and on the poles that seem to channel the storms that make the planet challenging to get on and off of. The Holy Orders of Olde Earth are trying to form a foothold on this planet as the storms have caused electromagnetic pulses, wreaking havoc on Manthyi’s technology and economy.


Leaquidor

This planet is a kind of retreat, settled by a heretical sect of the Holy Orders who are seeking out a mass ascension, leaving this world by the hundreds of thousands to pursue an existence as beings of pure energy.

The asteroid field that surrounds the approach to Leaquidor are riddled with ancient mines from a war whose name and sides are no longer known. It is said the Leaquidor Ascension Heretics (see Sociological Factions below) activated the defenses so that they could achieve ascension without interruption or distraction from the rest of the sector’s petty concerns.


Tejanes

Just coming out of a decade long plague, Tejanes is in a state of despair looking at the state of the sector. The Tejanesiones Senate is engaged in intense debate about what they should be doing to solve the sector’s problems while corporations are profiting from the sector’s overall unrest, running refugee ships that sign the desperate passengers into unscrupulous indenture contracts and barely legal pre-tech salvage agreements.


Asirida

A planet known for its aggressive cybernetic culture, recent laws have made it illegal to land on the planet and recruit its enhanced soldiers to fight but that has barely slowed the flow of mercenaries to conflicts all over the sector.

Rocket ships that are crude by modern standards launch daily so that awaiting orbital recruitment platforms can sign Astridanni cyborgs into the eagerly awaiting mercenary companies.


Halld

After the nuclear war on Hrefna, Halld cloaked itself from easy detection, making finding the planet difficult if not impossible. The planet’s atmosphere has rendered the population immortal and rather than share this amazing bounty with the rest of the sector, the Halldoni people have elected to hide their resources and leave the rest of the Sector to fend for itself.

Halldoni Navy ships, named for Olde Earth deities, patrol the Ias System and send anyone looking for the planet back the way they have come with any information that could make future navigation easier erased from their databases.


Suranir Priddhi

Having lost their navy in a conflict against Halld, Suranir Priddhi is now struggling to retain its status as an elite diplomatic corp and banking cartell in the sector.


Sociological Faction Guide

The Holy Orders of Olde Earth

This is a council made of dozens of organizations that take their inspirations from what we can remember of Olde Earth. They have turned toward protecting the artifacts not only on Valgerg but all over the Sector, spreading not only spiritualism and community but science and learning wherever they can.

  • Unlocks the Pre-tech Minefield of Leaquidor
  • Finds an ancient terran battlecruiser sent to put the sector back in control of Olde Earth oligarchs

The Tejanesiones Senate

The Senators of Tejanes are engaged in a debate about what action this planet should take. With its small but capable modern navy and solid science infrastructure it is in a unique position to change the fate of the sector. Refugees have been welcome here, though senators are being bought by the TCEA and drawing the debate out in bad faith.

Tejanes Navy spaceships are named after what is remember on earth, from natural resources (The Grand Canyon, Mount Killimanjaro or The Amazon Forest) for humanitarian ships to human-made marvels (The Great Wall, Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Giza) for ships made for war. Senators who declare a naval maneuver will often be deployed with the ship as a counselor to see the work their legislation achieves first-hand.

  • Navy is sent en masse to Hrefna to evacuate those suffering under nuclear blight
  • TCEA is declared a war criminal.

Tejanes Corporate Entities Alliances

With shareholders from all over the sector, the Corporate Entities are a brutal alliance looking to take control of as much of the sector as they can via war profiteering and crisis investing. From investing in weapons and munitions to refugee transportation and indenture, no profit is too low for the T.C.E.A.

  • T.C.E.A. gains a controlling share in the Airidanni Mercenary Compact and uses that leverage to take control of Tejanes via military corporate coup.
  • T.C.E.A. captures science that can harness energy of XW 397186, putting the sector under its thumb.

Leaquidor Ascension Heresy

Spiritual philsopher scientists who have claimed an isolated planet that is surrounded by ancient pre-tech mines left from a forgotten war. When something happens in the sector that cannot be easily explained, conspiracy theorists are quick to blame it on Leaquidor Heretics. Few Leaquidorans leave their planet. Much of the time, these conspiracy theories are false.

  • The heretics ascend, leaving this physical world for a dimension of pure energy and mathematics.
  • The heretics declare a holy war on those seeking to interfere on their ascension.

Airidanni Mercenary Compact

Together the mercenary companies of the A.M.C. are a formidable force, each coming to the aid of even the smallest company signed into their mutual defense compact. None of the colorfully named companies (The Red Wolves, the Screaming Kaiju, the Psychic Tigers, the Terran Ancients and many more) have gained an upper-hand over the others, making the A.M.C. a conglomerate of diverse mercenary companies. From the bodyguards to cyborg infantry to the most complicated company of dropships mechanized tank battalions they are united. Even as they fight and kill each other to fulfill their contracts, they will set aside rivalries to defend the other.

  • AMC ends the Hrefna Civil War by refusing to allow its soldiers to serve in the irradiated landscape.
  • AMC takes contract to break the Halldoni Blockade.

Halldoni Immortals

Isolationists who refuse to share the vast resources of their idyllic planet. The navy that guards the planet in what they call the Halldoni Blockade has no mercy towards trespassers. Those who try to find their way to Halld are referred to as “weeds in the garden” and are attacked without mercy.

  • Halldoni Terrorists strike against major powers seeking to sneak past their blockade.
  • Halld shares medicine with faction to show their good will.

Suranir Priddhi Mercantile Sibhood

The Suranir Priddhi Mercantile Sibhood are bankers and diplomats whose banking exchange can trace its lineage back to Olde Earth but now struggles against its own dramatic decline. Once a Priddhi Agent could quell a war or depose a dictator within days of landing on a planet but now their era is coming to a close.

  • The Suranir Priddhi Mercantile Sibhood finds reasonable rates and terms with Hrefna to offer them a sizeable loan to rebuild and de-radiate its planet.
  • The Sibhood puts in an order to rebuild its navy to regain its status in the Sector.

What next?

If we’re doing traditional Stars Without Number the players can start as a small mercenary company in the A.M.C. or a proud group of Suranir Priddhi agents, maybe even a group of sci-fi Jesuits in the Grid System’s volatile asteroid/mine field trying to unlock its secrets.

If we’re rocking out with Star Gods, let’s have these immortals zip into the system in a capital ship worthy of their pantheon and they can look at the map and ask their AI questions until they decide which planet they want to jump onto first.


Art and Inspiration

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

Sectors Without Number is a cool toy.


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Finishing Touches on Circe Theta


The sector is about ready to roll. I’d fiddle with things as characters were made, fine-tune it to fit the Star Gods at hand a bit. Right now it is fine for a SWN game but I want a few more big things for a Star Gods game.

Godbound has a few cool tables. Let’s roll a few and see what inspirations shake loose.


Ruins

We’ve got some ruined orbital stations and the dead ships around Usaus.

I get the following

  • Vault or Treasury of some Mighty Relic
  • Temporal Lock
  • Useful Ally who could be useful or reactivated

Interesting, Temporal Lock means the ruin is only accessible at a certain time (unless there is a Star God with the Time sphere). I’m thinking an old Hegemonic starship that went too close to the black hole and occasionally appears as it tries to break free of the event horizon’s brutal grip (Does that even make sense? I don’t know. Sounds cool).

There is a Star God-level entity aboard who was lost and they had an amazing weapon, a legendary blade made by the smiths of Gordie Pria…maybe they even got caught in the black hole’s pull trying to grab the blade after it was forged there.


That was fun. Let’s go again.

  • Fortress or Military installation
  • Toxic Atmosphere
  • Valuable Map to treasure or lost ruin (rolled Useful Ally again and chose this one instead)

I’m thinking a capital ship Usaus, where bio-weapons blew up and left the ship a dangerous toxic mess. This ship was called in during the hegemon’s last days but before that it had guarded a research station that was dedicated to turning the Black Hole into a stargate.


Fun, let’s try an aristocratic court for one of our Alldish Noble Houses.

  • Court Mood: Decadent, obsessed with exotic pleasures
  • Major Actor: Honored General
    • Minor Actor: Foreign artist
  • Conflicts: Dispute over Heir
    • Consequences of Destruction: A much worse set of replacements are waiting

Love it. I’m thinking the foreign artist is a director who makes amazing movies about Olde Earth, painting ancient battles as current events. We’ve got an heir of an honored general and the general’s staff would be even worse if they took power.

I’ve got vague ideas about the General retiring after a century of war, becoming a saint-like demi-god. For some reason I’m picturing the general as George Washington – powdered wigs, Revolutionary War sabers and laser muskets.


I’d make up a Time Angel from the Black Hole as some kind of Parasite God.

Techno-undead in the ships floating above Usaus.

I want something keeping Kordie Pra’s quarantine, something that can take on several gods. Maybe a Nanite Cloud in low orbit that becomes a monster designed to destroy whatever attempts to get through. I’ll let that marinate.


If I was feeling it, I’d make up the factions using the SWN rules, though I might go with the looser Godbound faction rules, roll some dice, see how the factions are doing as the Star Gods step into the Sector.