Monthly Archives: January 2012

3 Generations After the End: The Forests

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

The face of the world has irrevocably changed, three generations after the end. The landscape is divided neatly between vast swathes of desolate waste and gigantic, ancient forests. Arable land that has not become completely overgrown is an incredible rarity in the world, and all of that has long since been claimed by the warlords or the sorcerer-kings. Many of the remaining cities have been built within the crumbling remains of those left from before the end, crowding along the coasts of rivers, lakes, and oceans. These are almost invariably held under sway by the ineffable whims of the Priesthood. Wherever one can gain a fleeting sense of security, one also must have to sacrifice liberty.

Magic seems to have not only returned to humankind. The forests are, perhaps, the most dangerous place in the world. Technology begins to inexplicably break down and malfunction, the further one strays from civilization, but there is nowhere worse than deep within the forests, where technology just doesn’t work at all. Even more primitive implements such as compasses can often lead one astray; the magic imbuing the place seems to disrupt natural as well as artificial magnetic fields. This may also contribute to some of the more subjective experiences, deep in the woods; spending too much time in the wilds can lead to dizziness, confusion, exhaustion, and anxiety. These effects seem to be particularly bad to those with natural magical talent of their own; not only does magic frequently misfire or go astray, but but it is more exhausting for the caster to carry through. Worse, it seems that many flora and fauna within the forests and jungles seem naturally attracted to magic, zeroing in on the errant caster, often ignoring their companions completely.

Very few animals still dwell within the forests, and those that do are monstrous. The plants themselves, it seems, have become the chief predators, preying both upon each other, and anything else that wanders too far in whether for folly or for food. Many have changed into things unrecognizable from what they may once have been, developing bulbous, tuberous, vining, sticking, and piercing structures to assist in their predations. Nearly every predatory plant can exhibit short bursts of incredible growth, draining storage organs and shrivelling pseudobulbs in order to achieve these wild grasps. Roots, stems, and even flowers are often covered in minute hairs, which sense something brushing against them, or even walking over the ground above, and stimulate the plant to strike. These hairs can also serve another purpose as well; many are packed full of potent crystallized toxins, causing skin that brushes against them to burn, scab, or even necrotize. Many pollens serve a double-duty as soporific agents, lulling the breathers into a narcotic sleep. Spines and mucilaginous glands along the leaves and stems further serve to deliver the plants’ predatory payloads to their unsuspecting victims. Once bound by rapidly-growing vines, disabled by poison or injury, or simply exhausted from fighting back cruel nature, the plants slowly grow over their victims. Adventitious roots pour out of any part of the plant and dive into the flesh, drawing out nutrients as they exude enzymes that breaks down the tissue. Even calcium is drawn out from the bones, eventually, leaving nothing as evidence after only a couple weeks.

People venturing into the forests, whether for adventure or for forage, often do not return. Rescue parties are a rare sight; usually once someone has been attacked, there is very little chance of survival. Nevertheless, the sight of a scarred, scabbed individual is not an uncommon one within the settlements nearest to the forests. Some are even permanently disfigured from their experiences in the wild. It is sheer folly to venture within the woods alone, so oftentimes a member of an adventuring group will take a misstep and be attacked by feral foliage, and for the rest of their lives bear the marks of the encounter. Yet the incredible bounty promised within the forests continues to draw the brave and the desperate; despite all of the deadliness, there is also an abundance of edible fruits, roots, and fungus. Many nomadic groups travel from forest to forest, foraging and scavenging within for items of subsistence and trade, as well as for the components of valuable medicines which they can produce. It is unreasonable, therefore, to make any sort of attempt to destroy the forests wholesale, despite the threat they present, because it is counterbalanced by their incredible fecundity of natural resources.

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3 Generations After The End: Sanctuary, the Domain of Shedra the Witch

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

They say it is Shedra’s magic that keeps the beasts out of the rolling hills and valleys of Sanctuary, and brings the rains in spring. Sanctuary is, indeed, a strange place. It is more…vibrant than most, more full of life. Life in Sanctuary is peaceful, and her people have full bellies.

The Priestesses of Shedra

Those full bellies come at a price: total obedience to the priestesses of Shedra. Her robed priestesses roam the streets on inscrutable errands. They occasionally commandeer people and supplies. No reason is given, but rarely is a reason asked. That is the price.

Priestesses are chosen from among the populace of Sanctuary. Priestesses will simply show up at a family’s house when the girl reaches about twelve years of age, and take her away. She will be gone for years. Those priestesses who appear in public are always at least sixteen years old, and display the uniformly dispassionate personality of a priestess of Shedra.

Priestesses wear long, grey cloaks that hide black leather-and-cloth armor. Every priestess has a symbol tattooed on her forehead; more complex symbols indicate higher rank within the priesthood.

The Kingdom of Sanctuary

Sanctuary is made up of about two dozen towns and villages, nearly all of them farming communities cobbled together from old-world technology. This is amazing in itself; little of new earth’s soil is capable of farming. Strange, twisted things come from this earth, but it’s edible, and there’s a lot of it.

Tower, the Capital

The only non-farming town is Tower, a massive mining complex in the mountains and Shedra’s home. This is a dark place. Though it employs hundreds of people, the only ones who ever leave are Shedra’s priestesses. Here, Shedra performs powerful magic in the dark passages of the complex she carved from the living rock of the mountain. Moans and screams can sometimes be heard from within.

Who Is Shedra?

The truth: Shedra is a necromancer. She spends most of her time creating undead, for the gray area between life and death fascinates her. She has released so much life energy from her unfortunate test subjects that it has seeped into the lands around her, giving it the strangely powerful life her subjects depend on.

Shedra will undoubtedly become a lich someday. Perhaps she already is, and uses a glamour of beauty to hide her true self.

Shedra is not particularly concerned with the rest of the world, but is smart enough to understand the danger of external threats. Tomas, in particulary, worries her, as her magic does indeed protect against monsters and beasts, but not against sentient people. Tomas could lead an army into Sanctuary, and while he undoubtedly could not kill Shedra herself, he could destroy her lands and priestesses, cutting off Shedra’s supply of experimental subjects.

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The Weekly Assembly: Edition NEXT!

Hey, gang! Sorry for getting this out a day late this week. Unexpected holidays have a way of turning well-maintained schedules into discrete piles of goo. We’ve decided to maintain the D&DNext links on a wiki page instead of clogging the Weekly Assembly with heaps of speculation, though the MetaRoundup is overwhelmingly D&D Next-heavy. Enjoy this week’s links!

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • January’s theme at The Gamer Assembly is The Beginning of the End, in honor of the end of the Mayan calendar cycle.
  • Check out 3 Generations After the End, aka 3GATE, our system-independent post-apocalyptic setting which we’re developing this month.

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D last week. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • Dice Mechanics: Fate by Jeff at House Rule is an excellent analysis of the mechanics of FATE, and why they provide more intuitive randomization effects than, say, d20.
  • gameshelped.org is a new initiative to collect stories of how games helped improve your life. It’s good to focus on the positive aspects of games. Please take a look and contribute if you can.
  • Seth Godin doesn’t identify as a gamer, but his blog post outlining the TED Imperatives gives anyone in the RPG community some guidelines for defusing edition war-like-arguments before they escalate to Holy War status. Many of us skip the first 2 steps: Be Interested and Be Generous.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

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3 Generations After The End: Monsters

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

Ratfolk

"Ratty" by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

"Ratty" by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

Ratfolk are intelligent enough to use tools, but remain sufficiently feral that they can rarely be reasoned with.

Ratfolk usually attack any creatures that invade their territory (which is usually a sewer beneath a crumbling city). They love water, and live in half-submerged nests stuffed with scavenged food and belongings.

In combat, they prefer to swarm enemies.

Ratfolk Warrior
Level 1
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 17 (+3) d8 +1 1 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 10 (+0) d6 +0
Speed/Pace 6 6
Initiative +3
HP/Toughness/Health 24 [12] 6 5
AC/Parry 15 5 +1 1
♣ Spear (at-will) Attack
…damage
+6 vs. AC
1d10+3
d6+3 +1 3
♥ Perception/Observation +5 d8 +1
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 13 Reflex 14 Will 13
FATE Aspects Life in the Sewers (1)

Lizzies

"Lizmyst" by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

"Lizmyst" by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

People exposed to strange energies mutate into these small, savage, lizard-like humanoids with limited intelligence.

Lizzies are smarter than, say, ratfolk and have their own primitive societies. Clans of ten to fifty lizzies are usually led by a shaman who performs bloody rites and leads the clan on raids for sacrifices and slaves.

That is the other problem with lizzies: they love collecting slaves, who do much of the heavy lifting in lizzie societies before being sacrificed to their inscrutable gods.

In combat, lizzies prefer to stay at range, using their slings to great effect. The clan’s shaman will also attempt great feats of magic.

Lizzie Scout
Level 3
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 13 (+1) d6 +0 1 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 17 (+3) d8 +1 1 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 10 (+0) d6 +0
Speed/Pace 6 6
Initiative +3
HP/Toughness/Health 24 [12] 6 5
AC/Parry 15 5 +1 1
♣ Dagger (at-will) Attack
…damage
+6 vs. AC
1d10+3
d6+3 +1 3
♣ Sling (at-will) Attack
…damage
R15, +8 vs. AC
1d8+4
R12/24/48
2d6
+1 3
♥ Perception/Observation +5 d8 +1
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 13 Reflex 14 Will 13
FATE Aspects Feral Cunning (1)

 

Lizzie Shaman
Level 5
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 10 (+0) d6 +0 1 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 12 (+1) d6 +0 0 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 8 (-1) d6-1 -1 1 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 11 (+0) d6 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 19 (+4) d10 +2 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 15 (+2) d8 +1
Speed/Pace 4 3
Initiative +5
HP/Toughness/Health 70 [35] 8 8
AC/Parry 17 4 +2 1
♣ Staff (at-will) Attk
…damage
Reach 2, +10 vs. AC
2d6+6 phys. & stunned
d8+3 +2 4
♣ Crystal Blast (enc.)
…damage
Close burst 2, +10 vs. Ref
3d8+4 physical
R12/24
2d6+2
6
♥ Perception/ Observation +4 d6 +0
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 16 Reflex 16 Will 18
Regenerate 5
FATE Aspects Magical Energy Field (1)
Special Ability: Crystal Energy Blast: Targets up to 3 creatures; +3 on the attack. Usable once per fight.

Arachnoid

'Skutt' by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

'Skutt' by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

These mutated creatures are actually quite sentient, and are slowly building their own subterranean kingdom. They occasionally burst to the surface, attacking human outposts for food and slaves (which may be the same thing).

Though sentient, they are not particularly intelligent, relying on brute force tactics and numbers. Tales are told of a telepathic device that allows the arachnoids to mold slaves into mindless fighters.

Arachnoid Soldier
Level 3
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 15 (+2) d8 +1 1 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 17 (+3) d8 +1 0 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 12 (+1) d6 +0 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 10 (+0) d6 +0 1 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 14 (+2) d8 +1 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 11 (+0) d6 +0
Speed/Pace 7 8
Initiative +6
HP/Toughness/Health 35 [17] 6 5
AC/Parry 18 6 +1 1
♣ Poison Claw (at-w)
…damage
+8 vs. AC
2d8+3 physical &
ongoing 5 poison
d8 and
poison
+2 3
♥ Perception/ Observation +6 d8 +2
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 14 Reflex 16 Will 14
At-Will Standard Action: Leap: The arachnoid shifts up to 5 squares and makes a slam attack against an adjacent creature: +7 vs. Reflex, 2d6+6 damage.
Savage Worlds Special Ability: Leap: The arachnoid jumps up to 8. Adjacent characters must succeed on an Agility roll at -2 or take 3 damage.
FATE Aspects Spider Leap (1)

Trill, the Carnivorous Plants

'Carnivorous Plant (Tattoo Design)' by Paul Stratton (used with permission)

'Carnivorous Plant (Tattoo Design)' by Paul Stratton (used with permission)

Trill are dangerous because of their stealth. They lay out their tentacles–each dozens of yards long–along the forest floor, where they appear to be normal roots. When a meal approaches, the tentacles grip the trill’s prey and, secreting a dulling poison, pulls the struggling creature towards the trill’s sticky mouths.

Trill
Level 7
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 16 (+3) d8 +2 2 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 19 (+4) d10 +3 0 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+1) d8 +1 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 8 (-1) d6-1 -1 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 16 (+3) d10 +2 1 Hot
Charisma/Per 10 (+0) d6 +0
Speed/Pace 6 5
Initiative +10
HP/Toughness/Health 75 [37] 10 8
AC/Parry 22 7 +3 1
♣ Tentacle (at-will) Attk
…damage
Reach 2, +11 vs. AC
2d8+5 phys. & immob.
d10+3 +3 4
♣ Consume (enc.) Attk
…damage
Grabbed enemy, +9 vs. Fort
3d10+5 physical
2d6+5 +4 6
♥ Perception/ Observation +4 d6 +0
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 19 Reflex 20 Will 19
FATE Aspects Lashing Tentacles (2)
Special Ability: Tentacle Grab: +3 to grab creature.

Demon

'SuborgMauler' by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

'SuborgMauler' by Peter Seckler (CC-BY-3.0)

Occasionally, a wizard will get the bright idea to summon a demon to help around the house. It never ends well.

Demons are solitary creatures; they never work with others, even their own kind. Most of the demons summoned so far have been brutes, intelligent enough to take direction and exchange a few words.

Demons prefer to charge into battle, howling and dominating enemies with their glowing eyes and slashing at the rest.

Demon Skinflayer
Level 9
D&D/Gamma
World 4E
Savage
Worlds
FATE Apoc.
World

Strength 21 (+5) d12 +4 3 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 18 (+4) d10 +3 1 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 19 (+4) d10 +3 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 18 (+4) d10 +3 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 20 (+5) d12 +4 1 Hot
Charisma/Per 15 (+2) d8 +2
Speed/Pace 6 5
Initiative +13
HP/Toughness/Health 380 [190] 10 8
AC/Parry 24 7 +3 1
♣ Claw (at-will) Attk
…damage
Reach 2, +15 vs. AC
3d6+5 phys.
d10+5 +3 4
♣ Scream (at-will.) Attk
…damage
Close burst 5, +13 vs. Will
2d6+5 psychic & stunned
3d6+2 +3 6
♣ Dominating Gaze (minor at-will)
…damage
Ranged 20, +13 vs. Will
1d10+5 psychic & dominated
3d6+2 +3 6
♥ Perception/ Observation +10 d8 +2
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 23 Reflex 22 Will 22
Foul Aura: If an enemy starts its turn within 5 squares of the demon, the enemy takes 5 damage.
FATE Aspects Horrid Thing From Beyond (2), Brute (1)
Special Ability: Scream: Attack all nearby creatures with +3.

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3 Generations After The End: The Races

Borderline Biennale 2011 by Abode of Chaos on Flickr

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

3 Generations After The End (3GATE) is designed to be a primarily human-centric setting. That’s great in a lot of ways. Humans are the dominant race in most RPG settings, and are certainly the stars of most modern media. It’s easy for us to relate on a common level with them, as well as imagining them competing in a fantastic world.

However, many systems also support the idea of multiple player races and 3GATE is easily expanded to include those.

After humans, the Beastmen are the most prominent race. Created by the early wizards after the great apocalypse, the beastmen are powerful men and women infused with bestiality of nature. Some are still under the control of wizards but many still escaped to the wilderness, forming their own tribes. Many races are naturally suited for beastmen as they already represent creatures who are part man, part animal. Minotaurs, lizardfolk, shifters, and thri-keen are all excellent choices. If you want to get creative, take a good look at the mechanics for the race and re-skin for different animals as needed. Gnolls are an excellent template race when playing D&D 4E. They get bonuses for hunting in groups, and their feats allow them to become excellent trackers or gain a natural claw weapon. These traits could be used to represent any number of animals in the world.

Beastmen are also naturally suited to working in a mixed party. Some are already allied with the wizards, while others have a natural reason to oppose them, so humans from either area could find reasons to work with them. They’re less naturally suited to the cities of the techno-priests, but in fantasy your characters are already exceptional. They could be converts, prisoners working toward release, or maybe they were an experiment left behind and freed by the priests.

Hayden Panettiere is a Cyborg by J (mtonic.com) on Flickr

Depending on the level of artifact technology you want to play with, the techno-priests offer another great race idea, that of the robot, cyborg, or android. The warforged of D&D, the gearforged of Midgard, and the giant robot of Big Eyes, Small Mouth are all great mechanics to use for these races. You could be a new creation, an experiment of the techno-priests and the ultimate representation of man’s worship of technology. Perhaps you were found and only recently reactivated. Many high tech labs would be outside of the city and in secret locations, leaving you to ally with the first willing humanoids you can find. You may even have been around since the apocalypse, remembering the old world. Talk to your GM about this option first. Many things from the past may need to be a secret to allow proper exploration and discovery. Maybe your character was a simple worker drone before, and never learned of life outside a three block radius, or it could be that years of poor maintenance have ruined your memory, giving you glimpses of the past in short, confusing bursts, making you a modern oracle.

Finally there are the deepest areas of the wild, where technology ceases to function, and the beastmen roam with unforgiving savagery. Few dare to tread here, and even fewer return to speak its tales. Since magic returned with the apocalypse, the secrets held here could be the source of the most fantastic racial options. Perhaps technology doesn’t function here because of magic’s rich veins. Fey lines could emanate from these zones, and perhaps their hearts are portals to other planes. One might stumble into cities of humanity’s mythic past: the mines of dwarves and gnomes, tree-top elven villages, or roaming tribes of goblins and giants. Like humans, members of these races may feel compelled to brave the unknown and explore the wastes outside their hidden sanctuaries. What happens when they leave, though? Does their magic change? Do they themselves become warped by the apocalypse? What grand creations might come into being if dwarven master craftsman were to work with the techno-priests?

Whatever you decide, use it to build the lore of your world, and have a grand adventure.

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3 Generations After The End: The Wolves of Thanatos

"Warrior Spirit" by Shane Gorski

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

When predators rise in the food chain and eventually hit the top, it is seldom that they remain in that place unchallenged. Given enough time, other predators will realize their potential and evolve into a threat to the complacent. The wizards of the World Reborn quickly asserted themselves as the dominant species across the devastated lands, but in many places across the lands there was no room for shared power; wizard fell upon wizard in desperate struggles to be the strongest among them. It is often when these wizards hunt alone that they fall victim to another predator, one that hunts them specifically.

Little is publically known about the Wolves of Thanatos, other than they seem to specifically target wizards throughout the wastelands. The few facts people have scraped together range from amazing to horrifying. Wizards have suddenly vanished in the night, even from their own lairs. The vast majority is never seen again, and looters who descend on the riches of the missing wizards say that, despite clear signs of a struggle having occurred, their libraries and artifacts are frequently intact. Their numbers aren’t known, nor has a base of operation been identified. The greatest question, though, is how they’re able to take down such immensely powerful beings where many have failed.

On only a few recorded occasions has a wizard returned from going missing, and in every case they’re found crucified to the gates of a city, butchered like a swine and with a look of unending terror on their faces. The reports from autopsies that are performed on the remains become locked away by the Techno-Priests and those who ask questions are either rebuked or jailed. Information among the common folk is little more than scary stories and rumors.

Those in the inner circles of the Techno-Priests, though, know much more about the Wolves than they’re letting on. The bulk of what is known has been chronicled by a Jocelyn Albrecht, a young Techno-Priest in training at the Grey City in The Valley. Thanks to her efforts, we now know that the Wolves of Thanatos are a band of fierce hunters who prey specifically on wizards. She also learned that they seem to have no political aspirations outside their own internal dealings, and their entire society is centered on the hunt itself. But, most significantly, she was the first to discover one of the secret hunting techniques of the Wolves: the ability to dampen magic.

The actual method they use to produce the mysterious liquid is guarded even fiercer than the knowledge of its existence, but the effects are now known through observation. The effects when introduced environmentally are profound: low concentrations of the liquid in the area and soil causes magic in the area to become significantly dampened. Successfully cast spells are weaker, and some fizzle before they can even manifest. Stronger concentrations intensified the effects. Robbed of their potent offensive and defensive abilities, wizards fall as if they were mere lambs.

Most intriguing was when the Wolves seemed to begin experimenting in the Assassin’s arts. In one situation observed by a spy planted in a wizard’s home, the wizard was drinking from a cup of tea when he suddenly choked and fell to the floor, shaking before going unconscious. The wizard recovered several minutes later… and his connection to the ley lines had been completely severed. He could no longer summon a light, let alone summon a creature or a lightning bolt. The spy recovered some of the tea, which tested positive for the dampening poison. We don’t know if the effect was permanent, though; the Wolves raided the lair hours later and the spy barely escaped with his life.

Combining the effects of their dampening poisons and brutal combat techniques with tactics that border on terrorism, the Wolves of Thanatos ride a thin line between being praised as saviors of the populace from the wizards and deeply feared for their horrific and extreme methods. Many wonder what will happen if all of a region’s wizards are slain, driven into hiding or move on to less hostile lands. Will the Wolves move on, or will they remain and look for new prey? Without knowing who they are or what their true purpose is, speculation runs rampant.

Tune in for the follow-up article later this month, as we dive deeper into the Wolves and learn about them from the inside.

 

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