In Book 2: Starships of the Traveller Little Black Box, it talks a bit about getting education and training. Easy enough to Apocalypse it up a bit. Here’s a different way to say something similar, drawing inspiration from ( or ruthlessly pillaging, depending on your POV) Apocalypse World and Burned Over:
But, Judd, you ask, what about stats?
I like that we’re saying that the limits of the human body aren’t interesting to us. What you use to change the world is your training and in order to gain training you have to go out and interact with the world.
What about non-basic moves?
Non-basic moves are all tech. Maybe the True Sword, a networked blade with an embedded AI, gives you a move like the Gunlugger’s Not to be Fucked With, where you fight as a gang. Certain drugs give you access to psychic powers.
I’ve been thinking about Planescape recently and wrote up some tables for our Thursday night game. As Stras says, “Encounter Tables are setting design,” and if you look at Band of Blades you can see that in action. I don’t think of the tables as Random Encounter Tables but as Inspirational Encounter Tables.
Inspiration > Information. If choosing from the table helps me create a cool thing or if the players’ actions mean something on or off the table should definitely be around, I’ll use that. As Apocalypse World says, “Sometimes disclaim decision-making.” Sometimes, though, it is obvious from the way the players’ actions have pinballed off of your prep, that a dragon-is-a-coming. When that happens, I’ll let the dragon in.
There is a blog post about having 2d6 Encounter Tables and always having a Dragon as the 2 or 12 and I always lose that link. If you have it, please post it in the comments.
Sometimes I need a delve, an imbalance to address. When that happens I roll 2d6, not adding them up and looking at the tables below, rolling or picking until I have an idea for an adventure.
And sometimes I’m goign to use these tables so that I have the planar bits at my fingertips. I remember that Story Hour on ENworld where there were elves whose plane had cracked and fallen into fell realms, changing the fey beings there forever. I want to be able to take an Elf Citadel and decide that there was a cataclysm and it…got jammed between *rolls dice* a plane of Magma and one of the Nine Hells, creating these volcanic elves who worship the Devil-God.
Our first game was about Keymont. I rolled and looked and daydreamed until I had this little cliff-side town on the edge of the Astral Sea, a failed whaling town that used to be the Nantucket of the Astral before all of the whales disappeared. Now they make keys but the machinery that syphons stuffs out of the sea to make keys out of is frozen and winter should be long gone by now.
Sometimes it’ll be like that, a town in trouble, a community in need. Other times it’ll be a dying god hit by a Fire Bolt fashioned in the Heavens who fell onto the Outlands and became a fell dungeon. Roll. Pick. Pick and roll until I have something. Who knows, I might even read through the Manual of the Planes from time to time or just have Githyanki forming a beachhead for a future invasion because I adore Githyanki. We’ll see.
I’m a fan of shrines and like having my favorite deities in a few tables. For some reason d66 makes it easy to list stuff. I can usually think of a dozen or so and then figure out that last 6 when I see a pattern in the first two-thirds.
That isn’t the map I started with, though. At first I started with this one:
What I really wanted was a link from each Portal Town to the plane it led to and the poetic three sentence descriptions from the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes by Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell and David Noonan. At some point I’ll make 2 more for the infernal realms and the middling limbo-ish realms but for now, that is fine. I’ve got the idea.
Want to make your own? Here are some PDF’s. I’d love to hear about what you do with them and how they work for you at the table.
I have no idea if tonight’s game is going to work. It has been a minute since I’ve played a d20 D&Dish game. We’ll see! Thank you for giving this a shot with me.
Planescape was this cool setting where the game implied in the boxed set was this city at the center of all worlds and the players take part in these oddly philosophical factions as they venture out into the Outlands and adventure. The adventures in the Outlands were supposed to ripple out into the rest of the planes of reality.
It seemed to me that NO ONE PLAYED IT THIS WAY. Everyone was excited by this city and ended up being a bodyguard for a dwarf crime lord with fire for hair or doing security for an ogre opera house. I dig that but I’ve done my faction-minded fantasy crime saga stuff already. So, I’m trying to play it this way. – into the Outlands.
When folks go out into the Outlands in our game everyone knows. Word gets out. It is DANGEROUS out there. You could get dragged to hell – literally dragged to hell. In our game there is no money nor fame to be made in Sigil. Real fortune is made in the Outlands (and of course we’ll visit Hells or Heavens or Elemental Planes of Fire as needed). The cool thing about Sigil, the City of Doors, is that you can get anywhere from here. If you are interested in a world you learn about on your adventures, opening a gate is something anyone can do if they are willing to expend the will and time to do so.
When you get back from your adventure the philosophical factions will gather in a plaza near where you live and debate your actions with you. No judgment, just a spirited debate on how this made the planes better or worse. It is a big event. Everyone gets dressed up.
When you want to find a portal to another world, sit down with your friends and figure out everything you all know about this place and how you learned it. Consider your sources. If anyone you know might know more, invite them to this palaver.
Names, anything made in that place. Lay it all out on the table. Where in the planes are you guessing this place might be? Make a map of the planes as you understand it and put your guess on the map.
NOTE: I’m not saying sit down and make up a place. I’m saying you must’ve heard of this place in-game. Sit down and discuss that before heading through the portal to otherwhere.
What do you have that could be a key to this place?
The DM will saying, “Sure, you could try to get there but…”
your guess as to where this place is in the planes is a little off, you’ll end up somewhere dangerous but nearby
you need more lore about this place, you’ve heard X knows about this or has info on it
you need an item/spell/artifact made from this place, in the Outlands, there is a place that you can get more
you need more items made from this place, it is going to cost you a devil’s ransom in gold
someone else in Sigil or beyond wants to go there too and you’ll need to pool your resources to open the portal
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
Medical Cryogenic Hypernation
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.
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…
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.
The first NPC we met was an AI who Daniel named, Stat. I’m thrilled that he decided that Lip considers AI people and wants to save Stat from corporate indentured servitude. Lip has a bit of an exhausted nurse’s cold streak; I really didn’t know what he’d do.
Just one of those things where you play with Affinity by putting city lights on Mars, start playing an AW Burned Over game via video play-by-post and then you look at Canva.com again and there are magazine templates and here we are…