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Old 07-02-2013, 09:48 AM   #71
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Default Re: Five Earths, All in a Row

May 21: In Dp-Japan, a large number of people high up in the government and military (which somewhat overlap) die in numerous 'accidents, which several others are personally 'invited onwards' by the Emperor ("You have disappointed me. You may use the garden.") In Inp-Japan, the government announces a reorganization and expansion of JAXA, 'to better operate in the changing environment of space in these times.' Though the expansion seems to mostly involve transfers of personnel from the Self Defense Forces, and the reorganization involves many existing employees receiving 'security' training, uniforms, and IJN ranks, the government denies that JAXA is being militarized (while unofficial sources point out that Article 9, Section 2 says nothing about space forces, specifically) - after all, the majority of employees are still clearly civilians. While the Inp-USA had been quietly encouraging Inp-Japan to simply drop or loosen Article 9, this compromise was far from what they were expecting.

May 23: On Inp-Earth, DARPA begins 'back-burner' R&D for a hypothetical prototype battleplate. Conservative estimates project construction to begin before the end of the 21st century... on the Dp-Earth calender. A failed attempt to reverse-engineer some of the lightsabres that were loaned to DARPA results in reproduceable blaster technology, firing a directed plasmoid into the target. The design and 'process' (ritual) is licensed to both Republic Defense Industries and Starship Enterprises (where they are called 'disruptors' (though some Trekkies insist that a disruptor is an entirely different weapon with an occasionally similar visual effect) or plasma weapons - which at least has the virtue of being accurate), as those companies have the greatest concentration of people capable of producing them. Bolts and vortex rings of electrically-charged 'cold' plasma provide less-lethal settings. On Stp-Earth, a third-rate mystic botches a summoning spell and summons an internet spirit from Inp-Earth. Hilarity ensues.

May 26: Further improvements in imaging software allow a number of quite strange things to be seen on the nearby Earths: on Fa-Earth, between two rivers in former Gallia Belgica Prima, there is a nation that appears to be in a state of suspended animation, including even the domesticated plants and wild animals (Ambassador mírchArthur confirms that something like the legend of Sleeping Beauty is occurring there), while in what we would call Russia and Siberia (and to a lesser degree, in Scandinavia), bear cavalry (ursalry?) seems to be in use as elite shock troops; such is also seen in North America, along with mastadon cavalry (which are rather more common, and are also used as beasts of burden). Meanwhile, on Clockpunk Earth, centauriod clanks are visible, along with strange wind-up aircraft, and other bizarre constructions. The Papal astronef remains docked at Ostia, but no other evidence of the crew or passengers can be seen.

May 27: Inp-Spain announces a delay in the commissioning process for their new submarine class, as the subs with have 'wings' and reinforcement added, making them the first heavier-than-water hydrocraft. They will also be the first submarines to possess supplementary fusion reactors. Most of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are promoted to five-star rank, the exceptions being the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. There is some debate on what the Space Force's five-star rank should be, but it is eventually agreed that General of the Space Force works well enough, for now.

May 31: As promised, Greece and Greek Cyprus exit the Eurozone, both using the new Greek drachma, though businesses in both are also permitted to accept British pounds sterling (and are more inclined to do so, for reasons of greater stability). Many British tourists begin booking holidays in either or both nations over the summer, just as planned (no, that was not the only reason they chose British currency, just an intended side-effect).


With thanks to Lord Khuzdul on SB.com for Turkish translations.

'Eugenics' on Steampunk Earth/Earth Three: The first successes in this area happened in about the 1830s and '40s, when pregnant women took small amounts of Haversham's Enhancer, or a derivative thereof, and discovered years later that their children had an unusual degree of focus and creativity naturally, more-so than children they had without taking the Enhancer - though the psychic aspects would very rarely manifest before puberty (those who took too much had children with the sort of problems you'd expect from the children of women who drank large amounts of scotch and absinthe while pregnant, though they still manifested the psychic abilities around puberty). The fact that this worked lead to more experiments in the same vein, leading to small numbers of 'New Men', 'Eugenic Races', or, 'Eugenies'. The oldest known Haversham Eugenie, a woman named Katherine Evans (nee MacLaren), was born in 1832, and each of her five children show Haversham traits, as do her fourteen grandchildren. The oldest non-Haversham Eugenie, an 'Alpha' named Wilton Thompson, is now twenty-three, and has a wife (Mary, also an Alpha) and two children (George and Stephanie), who already show some Alpha traits at ages four and three, respectively.

Experiments in permanently enhancing already-born humans and animal with non-psychic abilities have had little success.

Crunch:

Available Eugenic Race Templates on Stp-Earth:
Alpha (GURPS Bio-Tech, p66), first born in April, 1856
Brownie (Bio-Tech, p68), first born in 1857, rare due to appearance
Ishtar (Bio-Tech, p66), first born in 1859
Orion (Bio-Tech, p67), first born in 1861
Avatar (Bio-Tech, p69), first male born in 1862, first female in 1864
Helot (Bio-Tech, p67), first born in 1864
Metanoia (GURPS Transhuman Space p116 and Tranhuman Space: Changing Times p48), first born in 1866
Drylander (Bio-Tech, p70), first born in 1869
Selkie (Bio-Tech, p71), first born in 1870, rare due to appearance

The names are those in the books, and are the same in the International Register of Eugenic Races (first published 1876), though the Helots, Metanoias, and so forth will not be published for a few years, yet (they aren't considered a 'race' until they produce viable offspring, and there are some who say they shouldn't be considered a race until the offspring also prove fertile). Havershams aren't considered a Eugenic Race. The gaps are intentional, as this only lists successful templates. The GM is free to add a few that, for various reasons, are considered unsuccessful (or are successful but still secret, or successful and known, because it's your game).

The total population of non-Haversham upgrades is less than a thousand, world-wide, but is growing, now that the Alphas have proven fairly successful. Once the Alphas and others have grandchildren, the population will likely explode, and not just on Stp-Earth.
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:58 AM   #72
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The job sucked. No lie.

The cheap computer monitor never worked right, but he looked at it anyway since the dirty beige cubicle walls were even worse -- especially since they made him take down the Sigil poster, last year. (It apparently upset one of the ladies with the beehive hair who worked in HR.)

The phone rang all day, every day, and delivered straight to his ear whining complaints in all sorts of accents. Why is the shipment late? (Because the company guarantees overnight delivery, but only pays for 2nd Day....) Why didn't we get all the parts we ordered (Because the company never keeps a full inventory on hand, since it costs too much....) Why did the drawbar for this lathe start to neck after only 1000 hours? (Because Bobby Dahl, the owner, is cheap and would never pay for quality anything....)

But, hey, it's a job and the pay is above average for someone who can lie to customers as well as he does, and that's important since the unemployment rate for high school grads is more than double that for college grads.

(He'd tried college. Sat on his butt every Friday and Saturday night for two semesters, reading about a bunch of irrelevant crap that wouldn't make him rich, so he could attend a droning lecture about more irrelevant crap from a professor who thought tenure was the best goal in life. No thanks.)

Kimmie swung by, on her way out, and poked her head over his cubicle to say, "Hi, Jimmy!" Best part of the job, really, and one of the two things (the paycheck was the other) that kept him coming in to this pest-hole. Pretty ginger with slightly crooked teeth, who kept dating one loser salesman after another. He'd treat her better, if only she could see that.

Time to go home, finally. The swing shift paid a differential (the paycheck...) which meant he actually saw a few stars, sometimes, between all the concrete drab light industrial buildings in the business park, as he shuffled over to his old black Charger. It still looked okay, but the engine was slowly falling apart, and he hated wasting the hundred-dollar bills needed to glue it back together.

He hadn't bothered to look at the stars, much, in the four years since he'd bailed on college and found this job. That changed, a couple months ago, when the four other Earths popped up, out of nowhere, and wasn't that a kick in the head? He got home and switched on the TV, and watched the same college professor talking-heads yap their mouths on the cable news channels. Apparently, there still weren't any of them who had any idea how it happened. Useless morons.

But some of the other news? Now, that was interesting. That had potential.

He dropped his tv dinner tray on top of the pile of garbage (need to take that out, tomorrow...), dumped his fork in the sink with all the others, and made his way down to the basement of this crappy rental house.

No apartment for him. He needed the basement. The black walls ate the light reflected by the chalice and the athame on the altar. The light came from the LED overheads, above the six gleaming, polished monitors (no flickering crap, here -- the eyefinity monitors attached to a hand-built, water-cooled, overclocked i7-3960x driving a Linux box with the latest Tor and its own T-1). The ebony walls created a stark contrast with the shimmering silver Sigil of Baphomet on the wall. The symbols of his desire lay in their proper places, undisturbed.

Nobody ever came down here. His parents wondered why he never invited them over. They'd freak out, and call Reverend Dougie (idiot...) and tell him their son worshipped Satan.

What crap. There is no "Satan." There is no God. Everyone is the god in their own lives, and this is his place to be that god. Here, in this pure. clean space, he was able to set aside "James David Grossman," and become his true self.

Barakiel, the Angel of Lightning. The Name he gave to his Carnal Self.

Barakiel had long since cracked the passwords on the company computers, and used the data there to hack the systems of the customers. The customer systems, in turn, had led to some pretty interesting places. Barakiel knew a lot of things about a lot of people, some if it not so nice. Some of it... lucrative.

It was amazing how Bobby Dahl spent some of the money he didn't put back in the company.

Jimmy Grossman had no idea how to use information like that. Barakiel did, though.

Barakiel moved into the black grotto, focused his will, and the computer fans whined as it powered up. Barakiel focused his will, and the LEDs on the alter flicked to life.

Barakiel moved to the altar, and gazed at the benjamin, and the printed specs of the Alfa 4C, and the grainy photo of the ginger girl with slightly crooked teeth.

Barakiel focused his will.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:02 PM   #73
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Ooh, this is interesting. Thank you.

Should fit well in the fiction thread on SB.com, when you feel like going there.

Happy Fourth of July, BTW.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:39 AM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
Ooh, this is interesting. Thank you.

Should fit well in the fiction thread on SB.com, when you feel like going there.

Happy Fourth of July, BTW.
Happy Fourth to you, too. I'll post the story over there, tomorrow.

When you write for a game setting, you always want to focus on sources of conflict. I thought about that, and realized I should try vignettes about people who would become villains.

Jimmy Grossman has a lot of potential as the adversary in a scenario or three, for a starting group of investigators, I think. He also has the potential to grow into a nemesis, should the GM decide to make him less of a loser underachiever.

He's nicely creepy as is, though. :)
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:48 AM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
Jimmy Grossman has a lot of potential as the adversary in a scenario or three, for a starting group of investigators, I think. He also has the potential to grow into a nemesis, should the GM decide to make him less of a loser underachiever.

He's nicely creepy as is, though. :)
Oh yes. We should probably write up and post some of these characters, though.

I've got a few I've been working on, which should be posted here soon, for consideration and possible editing. Here's one:

Michelle Baumbusch

Age: 11

Attributes

ST 8 [-20]; DX 9 [-20]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 11 [10]

Secondary Characteristics

HP 8; Will 12; Per 12; FP 11; SM -1

Subtotal: 10


Social Background

Languages: Modern English (Native) [0]; Latin (Broken) [2]

TL: 8

Cultural Familiarity: 21st Century Western

Subtotal: 2


Advantages

Cute [4]
Luck (Aspected: Character Shields, -20%) [12]
Serendipity (Aspected: Character Shields, -20%) [12]
Patron (Parents; 15 or less) [30]
Thoughtform Talent 1 [10]
Magic Wand (Potterverse) [6]
Wild Talent (Emergencies Only, -30%; Focused: Psi (Thoughtforms), -20%; Uncontrollable, -30%) 1 [4]

Perks

Controllable Disadvantage (Easy to Read) [1]
Dabbler (Fortune-Telling (Astrology) 8, Fortune-Telling (Numerology) 8, Occultism 8, Pharmacy (Herbal)/TL8 8, History (Esoteric) 7, Naturalist 8) [1]
Magical Style Familiarity (Potterverse) [1]
Penetrating Voice [1]
Quick-Sheathe (Wand) [1]
Shtick (Cloaked) [1]
Shtick (Disarming Smile) [1]

Subtotal: 85


Disadvantages

Dead Broke [-25]
Social Stigma (Minor) [-5]
Pacifism (Cannot Kill) [-15]
Secret (witch, gadgets probably taken away if found out) -? <Suggested cost?>
Reputation ('nerdy weirdo', schoolmates and neighbor kids, All the time) -1 [-1]

Quirks

Frustrated that Transfiguration is so much harder than it is in the books. [-1]
Loves to read. [-1]
Always has her wand. [-1]
Crush on celebrity (Daniel Radcliff). [-1]
Calls mundanes 'muggles'. [-1]
Overachiver. [-1]

Subtotal: -52


Features

Extra Option: Astrological Ceremonies [0]


Skills

Area Knowledge (City) [IQ/E] [1] 12

Astronomy (Observational) [IQ/H] [1] 10

Bicycling [DX/E] [2] 10

Computer Operation/TL8 [IQ/E] [1] 12
Computer Programming/TL8 [1] 10

Fast-Draw (Wand) [DX/E] [1] 9
Fast-Talk [IQ/A] [1] 11

Hobby (Potterverse) [IQ/E] [2] 13

Holdout [IQ/A] [1] 11

Literature [IQ/H] [1] 10

Research [IQ/A] [2] 12

Ritual Magic (Potterverse) [IQ/VH] [2] 11

Path of Charms [IQ/VH] [1] 10
Path of Transfiguration [IQ/VH] [2] 11
Path of Jinxes, Hexes, and Curses [IQ/VH] [1] 10
Path of Potions [IQ/VH] [1] 10
Path of Items [IQ/VH] [0] 5

Running [HT/A] [2] 10

Swimming [HT/E] [1] 11

Writing [IQ/A] [2] 12

Techniques:

Path of Charms:
Leviosa (H) Path of Charms-1 [0] 9
Alohomora (H) Path of Charms-2 [0] 8

Path of Transfiguration:
Matchstick to Needle (H) Path of Transfiguration-13 [0] 0

Path of Jinxes, Hexes, and Curses:
Jelly-Legs Jinx (H) Path of Jinxes, Hexes, and Curses-1 [2] 10

Path of Potions:
Boil Curing (H) Path of Potions-1 [2] 10
Draught of Living Death (H) Path of Potions-8 [0] 2

Path of Items: None, yet.

Subtotal: 30

Total: 75


Equipment

Library card
Cellphone
Wallet, keys, etc.

Notes

Michelle's Cloaked Schtick is the result of subconsciously using telekinesis to keep loose clothes out of the way.

Her version of Matchstick to Needle (and Transfiguration in general) involves warping space, which is why it's so very hard to do. If she were only trying to compress the material into the right shape, it would probably be below -10.

For critical failures, Michelle rolls on the Comedy Table (Thaumatology p257), though as she grows up, this may change.

I might give her a broomstick, as well (Gadget-limited Flight, probably with Low Ceiling); it's not like they don't sell them all over the place as costume props.

Items and House Rules:

Magic Wand (Potterverse)

Path/Book Adept 3 (Time, Space, Material; Breakable (DR 2; SM -5 or -6) -20%*; Can Be Stolen, -30%; Must Have Thoughtform Talent 1+, -10%;, Must Be Chosen By Wand, -20%) [6]

*The Breakable limitation should actually be -30%, but that would give a total cost reduction of -90%, rather than the maximum of -80%. Remember this when adding or removing enhancements or limitations.

Notes

Some wands have other properties, based on the wood they are made of, or the core material their creator imagines or places in them, as described on the Pottermore website, and its wiki. Others are more generic, simply matching the example above. While few wands have the concept of language, much less the ability to use it, many have some form of sapience, and often have personalities of their own - though they are normally quite limited in their ability to express it. The wand-spirit as a character would normally have IQ 6 to 8, No Manipulators, No Legs (Portable), and in most cases, Slave Mentality, among other appropriate disadvantages, and might be a strange sort of Ally. A wand suitable as a PC would be especially unusual and powerful.

Many who have these wands also have some level of Wild Talent with the 'Emergencies Only,' 'Focused: Psi (Thoughtforms),' and usually 'Uncontrollable' limitations, and some wands require that advantage as well as or instead of Thoughtform Talent.

The usual Potterverse style is Effect Shaping, and the skill is Ritual Magic (Potterverse). A wand made for an Energy Accumulating version would have two levels of Time.

The Paths of Potterverse magic are:

Path of Charms
Path of Transfiguration
Path of Jinxes, Hexes, and Curses
Path of Potions
Path of Items

Rituals on the Path of Transfiguration often have prohibitively harsh penalties, much to the frustration of many casters. Even First Year transfigurations are likely to have penalties in excess of -10, especially if warping space is involved. Transfigurations that don't require warping space will mostly be easier - illusions may fall under Transfiguration or Charms, depending on how the creator of the ritual thinks of them. Rituals in the other Paths will mostly have defaults based on the year the novels say it should be learned, unless noted otherwise:

Year 1: 0 or -1
Year 2: -1 or -2
Year 3: -2 or -3
Year 4: -3 or -4
Year 5: -4 to -6
Year 6: -6 to -8
Year 7: -8 or worse

If the logic of the setting suggests that a spell should have a higher or lower default penalty than its usual year of introduction (or apparent difficulty in the books, if no year is given), the GM should feel free to adjust it. The years given are only important because they affect how hard practicioners of the style think the spell should be.

Rituals on the Paths of Potions and Items do not involve wand use, and do not seem to benefit from it. While there was no 'Magic Item Creation' class in the novels, AFAICT, there clearly were magic items, and some way of producing them in large numbers. Since neither Harry, Hermione, nor Ron attended Hogwarts in Book Seven, placing a class on the creation of permanent, reusable magic items in Seventh Year would be plausibe, and fit the fact that Fetish has a default penalty of -8 (placing it in Sixth Year or earlier would also work, as Harry just might not have noticed the class, since he wasn't taking it). Single-use items fall under the concept of charms (Thaumatology p139, rather than the Path of Charms), as do potions.

Popular belief among many fans has it that Ancient Runes and/or Arithmancy are involved in the creation of magic items, the invention of new spells, or both, and thus Symbol Drawing (any alphabet) and Fortune-Telling (Numerology) are Complementary skills for Ritual Magic (Potterverse), and the Paths derived from it, the Path of Items, especially. Because so many fans don't know that Arithmancy is supposed to be a class in numerology, Mathematics is also a Complementary skill, and because Astronomy (probably Observational) is a core class, both it and Fortune-Telling (Astrology) may serve as Complementary skills. Potter-style casters may take advantage of the Decanic modifiers (GURPS Thaumatology pp83-86 & 248-252), if they are aware of them.

The 'Aspected: Character Shields' limitation, in brief, sets Luck and/or Serendipity to make you harder to catch or kill, and can provide some protection for certain secrets, but does not help you succeed in your schemes. Th TV Tropes article Smoking Gun Control has examples of these advantages in action, plausible and otherwise, as does the 2007 film The Brave One (notable because the main character notices how odd it is). This type of Luck/Serendipity very common advantage among empowered people (even those who, by inclination, aren't likely to do anything that would have them need it), although it doesn't count against the 10% guideline for non-power-centric games. Jimmy, above, probably has one or the other, if not both.

Michelle mostly uses it to keep her parents and other adults (or kids who might tattle) from finding out she's got powers, now, since they might take her wand away (and certainly her broomstick, if I give her one).

I'll probably post some more characters, later, including a group of possible enemies for Barakiel/Jimmy (they're in the 100 to 200 points range). Also, the incomplete write-up for the Power Rings, which I think I'll need help with, if I don't get a bolt of inspiration in the next few days.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:03 AM   #76
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This would have been edited into my post above, but it was already too close to the character limit.

The reason I'm uncertain about the level of her Secret disadvantage is the same as the reason for the 'probably' in the description: as I think I mentioned earlier in the thread, the spirits tend to object to people taking away the gifts they give, so her chances of getting her wand (and broomstick, if she gets one) back are higher than would be accounted for by a -5 or -10 Secret coming out.

Broomstick (Flight (Gadget: Breakable (DR 2, HP 14; SM -2), -40%; Can Be Stolen, -30%); Low Ceiling (30-foot), -10%) [8]. Without Low Ceiling, cost becomes [12].

Another advantage I've been considering is a limited version of Astral Travel: she visits Hogwarts in her dreams. This makes learning easier, but also adds frustration to her transfiguration studies, which are far easier in the dream world than in the real world, as the dreamworld has no real space or matter, just dreams (reduce difficulties by ten to thirteen for 'items' in the dream-world/Astral Plane; e.g. Matchstick to Needle becomes a -0 or -1 ritual).

On another note, I'm not sure if I've got the cost of Patron right, though I've seen it that way on some 'creating child characters' sites and threads. In some ways, her parents could be considered both Patrons and Dependents (or Allies with an appropriate limitation on their willingness to help): On one hand, they have certain important advantages over her (they're adults who have jobs and Average Wealth, and are responsible for her, while she's a child with no job and a paltry £5-a-week allowance), but on the other, she's an empowered ~75 point character (more or less, depending on how the advantages and disadvantages under discussion pan out), and they're two mundane ~30 point characters. If they were both empowered, and especially if they were as big Harry Potter fans as she is, her situation would be rather different, Patron and Secret-wise.
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:12 PM   #77
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How will her parents react if they find out. Forbidding her from magic except under supervision, forbidding it totally, taking her to a fanatical group to have the evil magic beat out of her? How is society in general reacting, given the Lantern orgs and such it might make things better for her. Training, jobs waiting when she gets old enough etc.

Literature [IQ/H] [1] 10 should probably have an specialization in Fantasy.
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:04 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
How will her parents react if they find out. Forbidding her from magic except under supervision, forbidding it totally, taking her to a fanatical group to have the evil magic beat out of her?
I'm imagining them as a fairly normal British couple (or American, which just requires converting her allowance into dollars), who indulged their daughters hobby because it was harmless. Their main concern is that she'll get hurt or killed, and there's all these bizarre stories on the news.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
How is society in general reacting, given the Lantern orgs and such it might make things better for her. Training, jobs waiting when she gets old enough etc.
Society in general is split, with different people reacting in different ways, and a wide range of groups and opinions. There are a few loonies who want to be rid of the 'mutants' and 'witches' entirely, but only a few (it helps that concentration camps are on the news a lot, now - not many would want to be compared to the Nazis). There are some crazy politicians and activists on the 'kill/confine/monitor them all' side, but mostly people are going with softer options.

The fact that there are real superheroes out there, and they often have better PR than the cops, helps a lot (though it doesn't make the cops happy).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
Literature [IQ/H] [1] 10 should probably have an specialization in Fantasy.
Fixed in the master copy (haven't dared to add anything to the post, itself). Thank you.
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"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
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Last edited by Prince Charon; 07-07-2013 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 09-20-2013, 04:35 PM   #79
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Let's see if this fits all in one post. The 'Seleneans' mentioned below are called Lunarians in the timeline, because it's mostly written from Inp-Earth's PoV, and 'we' didn't know their name for themselves (and the fact that their native language is a derivative of Greek is meaningful).

A Summary of a Report on Venus and its Inhabitants, by the Seleneans, or, the Amazon Women on the Moon.

Dp-Venus is a hot world, though not so hot as Inp-Venus. Where land crosses the equator, there is only a barren desert, and where the sea crosses it, the surface boils (though it is cooler, much farther down). This has lead to a pair of hemispheres almost totally isolated from each other, as well as some quite... interesting weather patterns. The Northern hemisphere is dominated by amphibian-like lifeforms (including the one known native sophont race), having few native reptiles, and no native birds or mammals (though they do have some flying creatures, including several species of flying amphibianoid). The Southern hemisphere is dominated by arthropods, and has few native amphibians, and no known native reptiles, birds, or mammals, nor apparently any native sophonts.

The native sophonts, called Venereans or 'Salamander-Men', found in the northern hemisphere are tailed amphibianoids standing an average of 5'3", and resembling to some degree a cross between a salamander and the classic Godzilla, with a vertical, paddle-like tail. It is believed that they are only distantly, if at all, related to any Earth life-forms, though the Seleneans are uncertain of this. They are primarily swamp-dwellers, though they have been known to build villages, towns, and small cities along and within large lakes or rivers. Unfortunately, they are highly susceptible to telepathy.

Five hundred years ago, the most advanced of the Venerean civilizations were undergoing a form of Bronze Age collapse, as they transitioned between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. This made them even easier for extra-solar invaders, the Cythereans (believed to be descended from humans taken from Earth long ago, and genetically engineered to their current state, much like the Seleneans suspect themselves to be), to conquer, and their telepathic susceptibility made them far too easy to enslave (which, most likely, is why their world was targeted).

According to the ancient alien scanning devices that the Seleneans have been studying, the Cythereans entered the Sol system from hyperspace by passing close enough to Jupiter for its gravity to drag them into normal space, but far enough out, and far enough from any of the moons, not to crash into anything. The Seleneans believe this was intentional, as exiting hyperspace without the need to use the mass-shadow of a planet is beyond the technology that the Cythereans appear to have (and beyond the Seleneans' own (slightly less advanced) technology, though they know some of the races living on Mars can do it). Likewise, entering hyperspace requires a projector larger than the vessel to be projected (though the Martians seem not to need this). First an uncrewed probe arrived, then years later, a fleet of their characteristic ovoid vessels. Signals intelligence from the Cythereans (again, intercepted and recorded by the alien sensors) indicates that they were expecting construction ships to arrive with parts and engineers to build a hyperspace projector a few years later, but they never did, nor did anything else from their empire, beyond garbled signals traffic indicating a great and unexpected disaster.

Cythereans, whose women are called 'She-Devils' by the Seleneans, are a telepathic race: They can read surface thoughts, make themselves seem more charismatic or frightening, shield their minds from telepathic attack, and are skilled in mind-control. They can implant post-hypnotic suggestions with a touch (or sometimes without one), manipulate more emotions than just awe or fear, or even perform what amounts to mental surgery, rewriting the victim's personality as they please. Worse, their victims will instinctively rationalize their actions under the She-Devils' influence. However, they are unable to directly remove or alter memories (at best, they can create a phobia against remembering or thinking about certain things, or a delusion that the memories are false), a weakness that a skilled deprogrammer can exploit.

Some She-Devils professionally specialize in one or more specific mental changes, such as turning someone into a 'happy, willing slave', or a 'savage gladiator' ("I want him in the games until he dies playing" is a legitimate criminal sentence on Venus), or removing the same from one whose sentence is up, or who has received a pardon. Of course, very few non-Cytherean slaves are ever freed.

In terms of personality, female Cythereans are frequently ill-tempered bullies, and sometimes sadists or control-freaks, as well, along with varying degrees of (somewhat justified) overconfidence. Mothers will often directly shape their offsprings' personalities, to be sure they 'turn out just right' (though their definition of 'right' seems odd to the Seleneans). In terms of appearance, they look, well, rather like a slightly racist 1940s Hollywood casting director was told to find a bunch of 'tall, pretty women'.

Male Cythereans tend to look like medium-height, moderately attractive Caucasian men. They are generally better at shielding their minds than the women are, and are good at sensing the use of telepathy (though it takes them time to develop both), but rarely have any mind control powers, themselves. They frequently lack a lot of what we would see as the negative traits possessed by the women, unless their mothers preferred them that way, but do tend to be loyal to their society, and don't seem to mind being second-class citizens.

Cythereans' powers tend to develop fully after puberty, and are fairly weak, before then.

The Cythereans live primarily in settlements in the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and in a few, smaller settlements in the southern parts of the much less explored Southern Hemisphere. Their basic family unit generally consists of two to four women, one or two men, and often about as many children as there are parents, with the household lead by the strongest telepath (which may mean the one with the best mind shield, or the one best at mind control, or the one with the best balance of both); male 'Alphas' are rare, but not unheard of, and only get in trouble for it if they make trouble for those outside the family unit, or are too blatantly abusive. Very wealthy She-Devils might have more men in their harems, if they wish, and some family groups consist only of women, some of whom might adopt, or get artificial insemination (or natural insemination, for that matter). If there are any purely gay men among the Cythereans, no one knows of them (which is sadly unsurprising, given the way mind control is thrown about).

Their total population, at least in this star system, is probably less than one billion.

The Seleneans don't know what started the war with Venus. The oldest of them were teenagers at the time, and government records of the time were among the first things destroyed. They do recall that a few Cythereans were granted political asylum in some of the Lunar cities, shortly before the war began. They aren't sure if there's any connection, but that's the only thing they can think of.

Militarily, the Cythereans have almost exclusively female officers, mostly male NCOs (odd, given the relatively small number of men), and robots at the lowest ranks. Their standard sidearm, which is built into the right arms of the robots, is a ray gun that can fire either a rather wide beam stun ray, or a narrow beam death ray. Visually, the use of the weapon causes the effected area or being to briefly turn white, then resemble a photographic negative, then white again, and back to normal; Sometimes the cycle is repeated a few times, for greater power - this is done faster for the death ray, and more slowly for the stun ray. Neither seems to have any effect on machinery, so they also carry gyroc weapons, grenades, and occasionally plasma-throwers (effectively a much, much hotter flamethrower).

The report itself reads something like a little girl with a black eye warning the new kid how evil the local bully is. The Seleneans' actual situation is metaphorically closer to a little girl who lost both parents, both legs, and one arm, then proceeded to cauterize the stumps with her remaining hand, and then survive hiding in someone's back garden for a few years, before asking the people in the new building down the block to help her build and install the cybernetic limbs her parents invented, in return for access to the technology... and then told them how evil the person who did this to her is.


Crunch: The ray gun's stun ray functions as Sleep 4 (Psionic Powers p49) with the Cone (5 yards) enhancement, a maximum range of 50 yards, and an effective skill, for the Quick Contest, of 16. It also does 1d-5 Toxic damage. The repeated cycles mentioned above add 2 levels to Sleep and one 1d-5 tox per repeat.

The death ray is as above, but removes Cone, increases range to 100 yards, and does 1d+12 tox per cycle, as well as an Affliction of Easy to Kill 10 (unmodified by number of cycles).
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Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 3/23/2020: Earth-1 American Command Crew Rosters article has been posted.
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Old 10-09-2013, 04:32 PM   #80
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Default Re: Five Earths, All in a Row

Sorry about the lack of new timeline content. It's coming, but slowly.

Try this, instead:

It occurs to me that I've mentioned disintegration rays a few times, including in the timeline, but I don't recall if I've explained how they work, beyond 'resulting from a failed teleportation experiment'. I think the original concept came to me years ago, before I started reading Schlock Mercenary, but Mr. Taylor's explanation of the teraport reminded me of it: in the teraport, quadrillions of nano-scale wormholes are opened into the object being teraported, the individual atoms (or subatomic particles, I'm not remembering which) are sent through the wormholes, and reassembled into the original object on the other side, probably due to all the wormhole mouths having the same positions relative to each other on both ends.

With the disintegrator, the 'exit' mouths of the wormholes are not all together, but rather are spread apart over a spherical or semi-spherical volume with a radius of up to ten kilometres. Each proton or neutron gets its own wormhole, but electrons are harder to catch, so the disintegrated object tends to leave behind a cloud of blue, negative-ion plasma, shaped like whatever was there, before, that dissipates fairly quickly. The more efficient the disintegrator is at catching electrons, the fainter (and less dangerous) the cloud is. In an Earth-like atmosphere, the disintegrator usually misses enough atoms that a vacuum does not occur, though the pressure is rarely an exact match for the surrounding air pressure. Disintegration of radioactive material outside of prepared locations is NOT recommended.

If the disintegration ray is targeted at an object with a volume and/or mass larger than it is set for, it tends to leave part of the item behind, usually with some electrical burns from the negative ions. When used on a person (or a mannikin stuffed with a man's weight in sand, plastic, & ballistic gel), this is usually one or two smoking boots - the scientists suspect this is a result of the spirits of Drama playing with them. When targeted on an object smaller/lighter than it is set for, it simply uses less power - unless the computer malfunctions, or is badly programmed, in which case nearby items, if any, may be damaged.

Crunch:

A disintegration ray pistol set for human-size targets would be treated in Powers as Corrosion Attack 2d+110 (Increased 1/2D *10, 15%; Teleportation, -10%), possibly with a Follow-Up that does Burning and Surge, a minor Nuisance Effect, or just a quirky side-effect. The 2d instead of 0d is due to the margin of error. Suggestions are welcome, if you think I missed something.

I could do a post on FTL drives, if anyone is interested. Also, I'm working on one for technology levels for Dieselpunk Earth's Sol System.
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Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 3/23/2020: Earth-1 American Command Crew Rosters article has been posted.
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