Friday, January 31, 2014

Tayxis: Bright Lights, Big City

Up until this point, I've mostly toyed with the "Weird Western" aspects of Tayxis, but there's more to it
than just prairie dogs and barbed wire, or at least there can be, if someone so desires.

Because of the way technology works in Tayxis, there is an opportunity for completely different types of adventures once you get into the bigger cities.  Dee Eff Dubya, for instance, is pretty much the same in Tayxis as it is here.

Except it's not like here at all.

Foul beasts creep in from the wastelands, nesting in the sewers and tunnels that criss-cross the metroplexes.  Religious revivals are followed by counter-revivals  and neorevivals, as one spiritual trend after the next sweeps up the hoi polloi  in rapturous fervor.  Modern Primitives seek to knock the underpinnings of society free from their fragile moorings, while Big Oil Men set fire to the land, one oil field at a time, hoping to attract the attention of their demonic masters.

                                                                                ~ A Disinformation Guide to Dee Eff Dubya, 2014 ed.

Yeah, I'd say drugs are rampant, but cocaine and heroin?  Shit, that's for pussies and teenagers these days.  You haven't seen somebody get high - I mean really fucking high - until you've caught up with someone who just smoked some angel hair, or done a line of powdered demon's horn.  And speaking of angels and demons, whoo-boy.  Turns out they can NOT hold their shit together here on earth.  They almost all end up junkies, but they don't get addicted to drugs, or at least most of them don't.  They just get... fixated.  I used to know an angel that was addicted to the sound of a saxophone, and went into fits if one weren't playing constantly.  What happened to it?  Got killed trying to break into the apartment of the Saxman.  You know, the one that plays down at 35th and Vine?  Yeah, climbed through the guy's window in the middle of the night.  Saxman's girlfriend stabbed him in the eye with a letter opener.  A junkie is a junkie, no matter where they're from.

                                                                                                     ~ Sgt. Mike Greeley, DEDPD

The Devil lies under Palo Duro Canyon, my Brothers and Sisters!  He lies there, but he is not sleeping, oh no!  Do not be fooled my friends, for his agents walk the earth, and they reside in the buildings behind me!  Our very souls are in peril, and while the hour grows late, there is still time!  The First Assembly of End Times Salvation welcomes you all, and begs you, implores you - pick up your weapons and fight!  Fight while you are still able for the Devil's arm is long and his claws are sharp!  He reaches out - Hey!  Wait!  You can't.... Stop!  Aaaagh!  AAAGH!!!!!   HE - HELP ME FOR THE LOVE OF GAAAAA....  *unintelligible screaming*

~Final words of Hezekiah Smalls, moments before being ripped apart by an unseen force, as caught on tape.  Case Pending.  Tape property of DEDPD.

While I certainly understand the concerns of the citizens, I can assure you that the tremors and sinkholes which have sprung up are simply part of the natural order - these things are cyclical, you see.  Going back sixty years, you find another rash of such geological instability, and another eighty years before that.  It's just the way the Earth works, and has nothing to do with the recent rollout of our Urban Oil Project.  Let me state unequivocally - there is no correlation between the recent geological instability and injection wells or other fracking techniques at use in your neighborhoods.  

                                                                                                     ~ Elijah Brockman, CEO of Texxon Oil

Ah... um... yes.  At oh-four-forty, we were deployed to a position approximately three miles outside the Barrier, in response to a Terrorantula sighting.  We, uh... we established a beachhead at the, uh, the rise over there. It was then that we, uh, we discovered the tunnel.  As it turned out, a group of narcomutants had constructed a tunnel and were funneling their, uh... their product into the city via this method.  We found ourselves under fire from the, uh... the perpetrators, and uh... we sustained heavy casualties.  It was only due to the, uh... the Grace of the Good Lord... Is it okay that I said that?  Grace of the Good Lord?  Okay.  It was only due to the Grace of the Good Lord that we were able to defeat the, uh... the narcomutants.  I do understand them, uh... to be affiliated with the Cartel, but obviously, I... uh... I would have no way of knowing for sure.  I'm just a jarhead.

                                                                                 ~First Lieutenant Samuel Hayes, Tayxin Marine Corps

This city is ours for the taking...
                                                                 ~Timothy Sterns, Grand Warden, OAP (Ordinem Aurea Palma)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

FtA: From the Ashes Play Report

Awhile back, I was a backer of Ron Edwards' Sorceror Upgrade Kickstarter.  I backed at the level which forced Ron to playtest my game.  It took forever for me to hammer what I had into some sort of usable form, but I finally managed to get it to him, and he was able to run a session of From the Ashes last weekend.  As promised, he's written up a review of the experience, warts and all..

I'm glad some fun was able to be wrung from the game, and while I obviously have some more work to do in order to get it ready for primetime, so to speak, it is encouraging to know that I at least seem to be on the right path.

More soon!

Friday, January 17, 2014

FtA: The Other Side of the Border

+Wayne Snyder does it again.  The look and feel of these borders is just pitch perfect.  Here is the border for the right hand page....

And here is the complete layout, left page, right page.  Amazing!

Seriously - if you're working on something that needs some sharp art, hit Wayne up - great artist, amazing person.

Thanks Wayne!

Friday, January 10, 2014

FtA: Border Illustration

I really hope From the Ashes ends up being good, because the bar on the art side of things keeps getting raised. Artist extraordinaire +Wayne Snyder sent me the designe for the borders yesterday, and it is a thing of... well, not beauty, but awesome!

I should point out, as Wayne did, the "sentient plant menacing a frogsnailrabbit with a screw driver" in the lower right hand corner, because that just makes it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tayxis: Ghost Town Random Encounters

Ghost towns are dangerous places in Tayxis, where literally anything can happen.  In these deserted towns, the line between this life and the next begins to blur, technology ceases to function, and strange things can occur at any time.

Go ahead and roll a d20, pardner - see what happens.

1.  A group of spectral children emerge from around the corner, laughing wildly.  Upon seeing the characters, they stop and appear first puzzled, then horrified.  They begin to scream, clawing wildly at their intangible bodies before melting into the earth, leaving behind the stench of burnt rubber.

2.  A figure sleeps under a large hat and blanket on the side of a building.  If prodded, it mumbles something and waves a gun vaguely at the group.  The blanket falls away, revealing goat legs - obviously a demon.  This demon is ridiculously drunk, though, and in no shape to battle anyone.  He can be slain with ease, but will curse any involved in its demise.  Pass an Intelligence Check or suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls until the curse is removed.

3.  Every door in town suddenly slams at once.  The echoes resound for 2d4 rounds.

4.  The next building entered is a portal of some sort.  The first person through it is disconnected from reality for the next 1d6 hours.  They can see and observe others, but everyone else can only sense them by the chill in the air and the whining of dogs when they pass.  No matter how they shout or flail about, they are unable to be seen or to interact directly with the real world.

5.  The sensation of having walked through a spiderweb overcomes the group, and everyone who fails a Wisdom check spends the next turn trying to pluck nonexistent strands from their hair and body.

6. Small cracks appear in the ground all around the party, and black, acrid smoke pours forth, obscuring vision for 2d6 rounds.

7. A voice begins to hiss, whispering sibilant warnings into the ears of every party member that fails a Charisma check.  The whisper tells of another party member's plans to betray them (determined at random). Each character thus affected believes these warnings to be their own thoughts.

8. The sound of heavy boots and spurs resound through the street.  A ghostly voice whispers, "Draw", and a shot rings out.  The party must pass a Dexterity check or take 2d6 points of damage as they're shot through with hot lead.

9. The party notices luminescent eyes peering out from darkened windows and other recesses that disappear when investigated.

10.  A Ranger lies in the street, bloody and on the brink of death.  He warns of a swarm of rats that appeared from the basement of one of the buildings.  He points to another building, indicating where they went, and then dies.

11. Two Barbed Wire Golems do battle, appearing as a single ball of wire tying itself in increasingly tight knots.  If left to its own devices, it will tighten until it is unable to move, then collapse to the earth, a solid ball of barbed metal.  If disrupted, both Golems will turn and attack the interloper.

12.  A door blows open, and six skeletal figures in rotted cowboy outfits can be seen sitting around a table, playing poker.  One of them stands suddenly and pulls an antique firearm, points it at the skeleton across from it and fires.  All six skeletons disappear, and the pistol drops to the ground.  The pistol is magical, and can be used to attack the incorporeal.

13. Clocks sound from all over town, all striking 13.  The dead rise, all of them.  Waves upon waves of the dead pour forth from buildings and from the earth itself, and the party will be face constant attack until they leave town, at which point the dead collapse into dust.  The party is unable to return to the town, blocked by a mystical force.

14. From the left comes the sound of whistling, a low mournful tune that reminds each member of the part of a song from their childhoo.  From the right comes an accompaniment on a banjo.  

15. A fallen angel weeps quietly, hugging a grave.  It ignores the party for several rounds, resisting any attempt to console or otherwise communicate with it.  It then pulls a gun from the folds of its robes, looks at the party with dead eyes and intones, "This is all there is.", and then shoots itself.

16. Pale, worm-ridden hands burst forth from the ground, grabbing the ankles of any party member who fails a Dexterity check.  Each hand has 10 hit points, and an AC of 4.  They will not release the character once it has grabbed hold, unless it has been destroyed.  There is a 35% chance that any character so grabbed will contract a wasting disease if they fail a Constitution check at a -4 penalty.

17. A Giant Dust Elemental blows through town, obscuring sight and causing 1d2 damage/round to anyone exposed or in the open.  It takes 2d6 rounds to pass through, and is immune to everything but magical weapons and fire.

18. A horse suddenly wheels around a corner, charging towards the party, a man in black crouched low on its back.  "Heeyah!  Heeyah!" the man shouts, slapping at the horse's backside.  Several bags weigh heavily on the saddle, and one falls as the horse rides by.  Gold spills out from it.

Several rounds later, a platoon of heavily armed men, also on horseback, race by.  If the gold still sits on the earth, one will grab it as they go.  If a party member takes any or all of it, twelve men will peel off from the group, sniffing the air.  They will offer to give the party a pass if they surrender the gold, stating they are acting on the orders of a General Scott, who the party has never heard of.  If the party refuses, a battle ensues.

19.  The characters notice that the entire party is sweating blood.  Effect persists for 6d4 hours.

20. The earth shakes as a Terrorantula lumbers towards the town!  There is a 10% chance per round, cumulative, that the Terrorantula spies each member of the party that remains outside of a building.  Once spotted, it will attempt to kill or drive away those that have attempted to infiltrate its territory.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tayxis: Setting: Osteen

"Even now, in Heaven there were Angels carrying strange weapons."
         ~St. Paul, The Prophecy (1995)

Deep in the bilge and putrescence of the wasted blights of Tayxis, a beacon stands, a light of hope to the the land.  This incandescent wonder  is Osteen, home of the Mother Church.  Its proud spires stand, pristine amongst the filth and squalor of the surrounding lands, a bright white hole burned into the mottled rot.

The mighty walls which embrace the city offer sanctuary from the fallen world.  Within, one may shake trail dust from worn boots, mend the broken-minded, straighten the crooked-souled.  In tales told by drink-sodden drifters, Osteen is known as The Eye, through which the One True God keeps watch on His flock in the Last Lands of Tayxis.  

Surely something protects this haven from the vulturous beasts that prowl at the edges of its light.  Surely the Tayxis Rangers have something to do with this, as their Holy Order is based at Mission San José de los Nazonis nestled deep in the heart of Osteen.  While they don't assume direct responsibility for the force which seems to keep out those of ill intent, they don't deny it either.   

The All Father presides over his flock from the Central Mission, itself a true miracle.  Shaped from the earth itself, it sweeps upwards organically, less piercing the sky than stroking it.  Eyes are drawn, unbidden, to its heights, and observers swear they feel true peace as they caress its curves.

The All Father's personal security force, the Templuritans, maintain order within the borders of the city, and enjoy an understanding with the Rangers, whose authority goes unchallenged in the wilderness.  Swords remain sheathed, pistols holstered - after all, who would want to spoil all of this beauty?

The city itself is divided among the Outer and Inner Rings.  The Inner Ring is the exclusive province of the Church.  Lay ministers may enter, but only on official business, all others not of the Mother Church are excluded.  The Outer Ring is for those who reach upwards, but cannot quite grasp the majesty of the Faith.  

All are welcome within Osteen's sanctified borders - rest and be well!

So that's the official story.

Truth be told, the Eye has grown milky with age, seeing less and less as time slips away. Shadows begin to creep into the corners of its vision, but whether it is actual Darkness remains to be seen.  As the filigree on its wondrous spires cracks and falls to the earth, the All Father rants in his enclave, seeing enemies all around him.  Even his closest confidants are beginning to wonder if stress and dementia haven't finally taken the final toll from their leader.  Nonetheless, he weilds power, and uses his Templuritans to enforce his brand of order.  

The Outer Ring is still relatively unaffected as of yet, but within the Inner Ring, a police state has emerged that puts a boot to the neck of all but the most orthodox of the faith.  There are stories of Brothers of the Faith disappearing, snatched from their cells under the cover of darkness, and the sound of heavy construction coming from far beneath the Central Mission after last Vespers.  

Most worrying of all, a tense standoff is at hand - a Brother has taken refuge within the Mission San José de los Nazonis, seeking sanctuary with the Rangers.  He claims to be fleeing the Templuritans, and while no-one has officially requested that he be handed over to the All Father's forces, a squad of Templuritans is encamped outside of the entrance to their Mission.

Meanwhile the Protection from Evil spell which has guarded the Eye is beginning to fail.  None can tell why it is failing, let alone how to restore it.  In the dark hours of the morning, a baker, heading out to open his shop, was attacked in the main thoroughfare, drained of all his blood and dumped into the fountain.  Fortunately, a squad of Templuritans discovered the body before daybreak and were able to erase the evidence before it was discovered, but patrols have been stepped up in the Outer Ring nonetheless, and the All Father begins to wonder if his enemies haven't finally chosen this time to strike.  

Finally, reports of Antipostles working in the surrounding areas have increased as farmers take shelter and seek the Rangers help in ridding the land of their evil.  Where once the Rangers might have ridden out in force and cleared the area, they find themselves caught up in the politics of the city.

And night draws ever closer....

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Tale of Woe

I grabbed Skyrim the day it came out, and didn't play another game for over a year.  I didn't always play video games, but when I did it was Skyrim.

A few months ago, we babysat one of my wife's various and sundry relatives.  The young lad is a bit sheltered, and he was terribly excited to see me playing Skyrim when his parents dropped him off.  Being the type to encourage the corruption of innocent youth whenever and wherever possible, I allowed him to play some Skyrim, sure, no problem, whatever.

It wasn't until the little tyke had left that I remembered that there are only so many auto-save slots on the game, and every time the little guy went in and out of a house, it created a new autosave.

Problem was?  It had been over three months since I had last actually saved the game - I just let my autosaving do the work for me.  Every time it autosaved, I lost an autosave, until there was nothing left but the flailings of an eight year old.

So, yeah.  It's taken me this long to get over it, but it feels good to be able to talk about it.  I had GTA V to tide me over recently, so that was cool, but as I'm listening to the OST, my heart pines for Skyrim's rugged peaks and dark dungeons.

I think I'll be visiting there again soon.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

FtA: The Cover for From the Ashes

As promised, this is the cover for From the Ashes, as drawn by the estimable Jim Mahfood.  I've been a huge fan of his work forever, and I couldn't be happier with what he came up with.  

This is coming closer to being a real live thing.