Caterpillar Hearts

From Sphere
Jump to: navigation, search

Experimental. A bit slice of lifey. Maybe a bit of fanservice. Four girls chained to a tank.

Ep. 1 - Three Girls, One Tank
Ep. 2 - -

Mission Orders

  • STAY CHAINED AND BUTTONED AT ALL TIMES!!!
  • Maintain mission logs regularly.
    • margin note: AT LEAST HOURLY
  • Obtain reports from outposts and inhabited places. See Section O.
  • Conduct photo reconnaissance. See Section P.
  • Check water levels at all wells and waterways. See Section Q.
  • Check telegraph lines and railway infrastructure and report any damage. See Section R.
    • margin note: Telegraphy isn't complicated. Wire connected and doesn't touch the ground anywhere-shit beeps. there's a spool of cable in the trailer
    • margin note 2: Observe safety protocols regarding electrical power. (You don't find that section included anywhere.)
  • Investigate and/or interfere with any Imperial activity.
  • Requisition, cache, or report the location of useful supplies and equipment. See Section L1.
  • Observe Section A3 on rules of engagement.
  • Observe Section A8 on civilian protocol.
    • margin note: MANDATORY EVACUATION in place for all territories east of the Kyriedark Line.
  • final marginalia: Permission granted to stay clear of cities.

Background

The Scourge

In 1493 under the old calendar, the Scourge of God fell upon the world - the newly dead reanimated with an unquenchable thirst for blood and hunger for the living. The spread of the Scourge brought an age of darkness, turmoil and devastation. Still, the world was merely judged; not ended. In the east, the Holy Church spread a new religious orthodoxy and organized vast crusades and pacification campaigns of continental scale and astronomical cost in lives and resources. The resulting Holy Empire brought an unprecedented unity across much of the known world. In the west, cities by the coast formed the League of Satella and survived the threat with civil organization, fortifications and, eventually, an industrial revolution.

The Holy Empire

The theocratic Holy Empire rules much of the continent directly from Spiro and has some influence over much of the rest. Since the Age of Crusades, they have stagnated but remain the preeminent force in the civilized world. Internally, the empire is brutal and repressive, regularly engaging in atrocities to 'fight death with death'. The priesthood dominate society along with the pre-Scourge nobility, mandating cremation and religious ceremonies for the deceased, placing a heavy tax burden on the general population. Heresy is punishable by summary execution. In the past century, they have had to contend with the rise of the League as well as tackle the Corrupters - people born with the ability to escape notice by or even control the undead. This is considered heresy and is punishable by mass execution. The empire's first two wars with the League gave it impetus to industrialize but also heavily destablized it. The empire as a whole is rumoured to have gone into full blown anarchy after the winter of 422-23

League of Satella

The League is the most powerful country in the world besides the Holy Empire and fought two successful wars with them in 370 and 395-398, overcoming the odds each time with technological and industrial superiority. The League is a one party democracy dominated by the Free Will party which is funded by a vast trust of wealth derived from the still valid last wills of long deceased nobles, merchants, financiers and industrialists. The League has no religious bent and views reanimation as a scientific phenomenon though actually studying it in any detail is banned due to public risk and the entrenched interests of the influential 'dead rich'. While the vast legions of urban poor are cremated, the wealthy in the League are embalmed to prevent reanimation and interred in fortified crypts beneath the cities. By law, this allows their wills to retain legal weight long past death. A typical last will amongst the League upper class leaves many responsibilities but little of substance to living descendents. Instead, it is a thick and massive volume prepared by a specialist class of lawyers drafted long before death is forseeable. The document stipulates in fine detail how the trusts may be utilized and political influence peddled after death.

The League-Imperial Wars

The League and the Empire first came to blows in 370 in a brief conflict where outnumbered but technologically superior League forces routed Imperial templars, first demonstrating the lethality of modern arms. Wars up to that point had always been carefully contained affairs due to the challenges of dealing with the dead under battlefield conditions and the first League-Imperial War was no exception. The two sides quickly negotiated a settlement. The Empire attacked again in 395 and this time the fighting was much more serious. The Empire's numbers stalled the League counteroffensive, forcing the two sides into deadly trenches. Late next summer, the world's first simple tanks burst through the Imperial lines and substantively ended the war again in the League's favour. While the armistice only came in 398, both sides in truth spent far more effort fighting their own dead than each other in the last two years and some from that era are said to still stalk the wilds to this day. Once again, the peace terms left further conflict almost inevitable.

The Third League-Imperial War (422-)

Because of the evident difficulties and lethality of war in the industrial era and the strategic limitations of the much smaller League, both sides concluded that the third war would have to be the last. Each side developed grand, megalomaniacal plans to achieve a final, conclusive victory over the other, whatever the consequences. This left neither side any room to hold back when the two sides mobilized and clashed once more in 422 in the War to End All Wars.

Initially things again went reasonably well for the League. The reformation and industrialization remained nascent and League forces were by and large still much more heavily armed than their opponents even if the technological gap had somewhat closed. Within weeks, what passed for the Empire's navy had been sunk, with League warships bombarding the south coasts. On the ground, the League army made large but incredibly costly gains. Artillery, tanks, machine guns and even more sinister weapons were brought full to bear and the bloodshed surpassed description. Yet, once again, the League offensive bogged down and the envisioned breakthrough to enable a drive to Spiro never materialized. After one full year of war and a brutal winter, there was no longer anything to be fought over. Instead, what remained was a vast gulf of No Person's Land separating both sides, stalked by millions upon millions of war dead joined by decimated populations as entire cities and provinces were overrun by the unprecedented hordes. The empire fell into turmoil as long suppressed uprisings swept across the vast dominion while the League lost most of what precious little hinterland it held, its core cities facing starvation, mass shortages, and the astronomical costs of rebuilding a mostly destroyed military.

December Storm

Marshal Naig's terrible idea. Its stated objective was to seize the initiative despite winter and re-engage the Imperial front line, with which contact had been lost as No Person's Land formed after the heavy battles of 422. It failed entirely and much of what was left of the League army was overrun.

Aftermath

The year 423. The war officially carries on as there has been no armistice. Perhaps there's no one left to parlay with, as the League government cannot establish the state of the Imperial clerical government for certain and rumours are that the empire is in full anarchy, with cataclysmic consequences. Other camps insist the Imperials are rebuilding quickly, a not unreasonable assertion given the empire's depth, and that another offensive must take place as soon as possible. For the League's part, a dotted line strikes off two thirds of the hinterland - practically everything gained since 370 - as lost. Nobody even knows how many are dead. A third of the population? Half? In the countryside of some regions, refugees are still wandering, trying desperately to find food and shelter. In the cities, there are riots, strikes, endless bread lines. Store shelves lie empty and worthless money is being used as fuel. Still, much as four centuries ago, humanity carries on, just about, and for the time being.

96th Armoured Scouts, the "Caterpillars"

It is now the year 424 of the Judgement calendar. The 96th Armoured Scouts is a penal division of the League army hastily put together in the wake of the devastation of 522-23 and thrown back into No Man's Land. Their mission is to ascertain the extent of the situation, report on and hinder any Imperial activity in the area and also make the first few treadmarks in the arduous task of clearing the undead. They are equipped with second line armoured vehicles deemed obsolete at the start of the war. But hey, a tank is still a tank against the risen, probably. In order to prevent combatants from inadvertantly contributing the problem, all armoured scouts will be chained to their vehicles.

Tank

The Carol-Lloyd tankette is a 6 ton armoured fighting vehicle designed for a crew of three. While considered obsoleted from front line combat by its more powerful descendents, the devolving military situation has forced it into a new lease on life. It was the world's first 'cruising tank' and is powered by a rechargeable battery using fresh water as a catalyst. Charging is accomplished either by stopping the tank in shallow water or, if necessary, throwing the cables and charging pile down a well. A full charge lasts more than half a day but unfortunately takes at least as long to charge as discharge and often longer depending on the water supply. A trailer can be hitched to the back, which holds supplies as well as your fourth person. On a good day, on good terrain and perhaps a stiff tail wind, she can manage 30km/h.

Protection
My modern standards, no part of the tank is particularly heavily armoured, being mostly rated against small arms fire. The best protected aspect is probably in front of the driver and main gunner's lower torso and below down to the vehicle floor. There's also nothing preventing zombie fingers from stabbing into vision slits and so forth. That said, a tank is a tank.

Driver's Hatch
The driver sits on the right of the tank, driving with several levers and has a hatch that can be unbuttoned. When latched shut, the driver can see through a forward vision slit. She also has a vision slit to the right. Generally the most comfortable seat.

37mm/21 cannon
The tank's main armament is mounted forward in the main hull to the left of the driver. Firing is accomplished through a vision slit with a simple iron sight and a few degrees of swivel but the gross aim adjustment must be made by pointing the tank in the right direction, taking into account that the gun is offset left. There's also a vision slit to the gunner's left. The driver's side has two driving related levers intruding into the middle so the gunner's seat is a bit uncomfortable to sit in for prolonged periods, as you're always slightly off kilter. On the other hand, you have somewhat more leg room than the driver until you start firing. The gunner has about twenty rounds of ready ammunition, perhaps a few dozen less ready rounds stowed behind, near the machine gunner's feet, and many more rounds could potentially be carried further back, up against the main electrics. However, the 96th's reconnaissance missions are only issued 20 rounds. The gun ejects hot shell casings that roll around on the floor until collected, hopefully without burning the gunner's legs on the way down.

7.5mm machine gun turret
The original version of the Carol-Lloyd had an unprotected machine gun mount set in a ring encircling the round top hatch. Following its protracted testing period and in response to the Empire's independent or stolen developments in artillery, first a shield, then a barbette and finally a full enclosed turret was added. The turret sits on a modified ball bearing run and is hand slung, taking considerable effort to do so. A small hand crank is provided for more torque in case it jams. The turret has a near-conical top like a chimney that lets in light and air, giving the redesigned tankette a much higher profile than its first version. To replace the top hatch, there is a hatch oriented to the rear, opposite the machine gun, that requires considerable contortion as well as a svelt frame to egress through. A taller machine gunner half sits in a sling but a shorter one might just stand. The machinegun has a few degrees of swivel and is aimed down an iron sight through an opening that seems just small enough that maybe a zombie's arm won't get through.

Other
There is a side hatch to the left of the machine gunner's legs, behind the main gunner. This is the largest and easiest hatch to get in and out of. The vehicle also carries a few other utilities including two searchlights though their use is not often recommended.

Characters

There are four girl slots to start with, as well as one tank who might be a girl if you squint quite hard. Girls should be placed in the Discussion page.

Rules

  • Stats start at 2, soft capped to 4 at game start (role bonuses can exceed it and maybe the cap will lift later) and hard capped at 7. You have 4 points to throw around plus the role bonuses.
  • Rolls are d10 with threshold 6 by default. Rolled 1s do not subtract but they do cause botches.
  • The primary function of Traits is to make some things unrolled but they also reduce difficulty thresholds.
  • You have a number of hitpoints equal to Physique+Luck. No wound penalties as hits are abstracted.
  • Fate and Will do mostly the same thing in slightly different ways - full successes on any one roll, a free defense, or a free extra (rolled as normal) action injected somewhere. There may be off cases where one or the other isn't applicable. They aren't stats though, so you can't buy more.
  • Fate and Will are restocked at most once per session. The trigger for restock is that when the last point of both is expended, everyone except the one who spent the last point gets it restored.

Physique - Lifting. Thwacking zombies. Hitpoints.
Agility - Quickness and lightness with your body. Dodging.
Dexterity - Fine manipulation.
Perception - Spotting things. Finding things.
Intelligence - Smarts. Ability to learn. You are still limited by your education background though.
Wits - Steadiness, reactions and coping with horrors in a sensible, no-nonsense manner.
Social - Talking to people. Zombies are not people.
Luck - Luck is a stat again!

Initiative

  • Soldier either goes first or will get initiative after the enemy's first move.
  • Soldier has no Fate or Will but can pass initiative and hold action on their turn, setting a specific condition that they will interrupt (if it doesn't happen, they act at the very end).
  • With initiative, you take your turn and then choose someone else - either a good girl or an enemy - to pass initiative to.
  • Enemies won't take consecutive turns unless all the good girls have already gone for the round.
  • Defenses are automatic but multiple attacks raise difficulties.

Tinker

You are a literate girl from the countryside who attended a vocational school in a small city to become a tractor mechanic. The winter before last, you became part of the horde of refugees fleeing to the coast, which is better than being part of the horde of zombies, you think. Thrown into the penal division for being hungry.

  • Farmer
  • Mechanic
  • Bonus 1: +1 Physique and Intelligence
  • Bonus 2: +3 between Physique, Dexterity, Perception, Intelligence or Social
  • Bonus 3: +1 Will

Tailor

You were deemed what the Imperial priesthood call a Corrupted. Your entire family was executed but you escaped into League held territory in the chaos of war. Thrown into the penal division for being a refugee.

  • Illiterate Imperial Peasant
  • Deadken
  • Bonus 1: +1 Dexterity and Luck
  • Bonus 2: +2 between Agility, Dexterity, Perception, Wits, Social or Luck
  • Bonus 3: +2 between Will or Fate

Soldier

You are the only actually legitimate soldier of the group, probably thrown into the unit for unauthorized retreat from a very very large number dead people. Default leader of the group thanks to experience.

  • Farmer or Urban Poor
  • Soldier
  • Bonus 1: +1 Physique and Agility
  • Bonus 2: +4 between Physique, Agility, Perception, Wits
  • Bonus 3: Always first in initiative and may hold action during combat.

Spy

You were a rebellious college student from the struggling middle class of the League. You were arrested for illegal thinking, which could include on such topics as Communism, oligarchic corruption and anger with the system. A political prisoner is the coolest sort of prisoner to be!

  • Middle Class
  • Educated (Pick a Specialty: Sciences, Humanities, Photography, Medical School)
  • Bonus 1: +1 Intelligence and Social
  • Bonus 2: +3 between Dexterity, Intelligence, Wits, Social or Luck
  • Bonus 3: +1 Will or Fate

Gear/Loot

The Carol-Lloyd itself has 3 cargo slots in the chassis. A full supply of 37mm ammunition would reduce that by 1 while removing a crew member would usually add 3. There are 12 slots in the trailer where an adult lounging on the packed bedding would likewise take up 3.

2 x Charging Piles + cables
Two quite heavy gadgets normally slotted into the rear underside of the tank used to cataylze charge. One of the first lessons for tank mechanics is that this isn't the battery (it doesn't explode when the battery explodes!) but is just as important. Makes well water taste funny.

2 x Searchlights + cables
Can be hooked to the battery directly. Generates heat and light.
Cargo Slots: 2

1 x Welder + cable + goggles
Must be hooked to the battery.
Cargo Slots: 1

1 x Intermediate Tool Kit
Cargo Slots: 1

1 x Spool of Cable
Cargo Slots: 1

1 x 120mm Camera
This is a camera issued by the military. You will need this to take pictures to bring back, proving you've done things. Boxy double reflex meant to be tripoded. Cargo Slots: 1

1 x 35mm Camera
The Spy's personal little rangefinder camera.

1 x Model 372 Lilium rifle
The standard 6.66mm bolt action rifle of the League army. Iron sights, five round stripper clips and a bayonet. Inconveniently loud, awkwardly long, and constant complaints about the bullet being underpowered against zombies. Also not compatible with the 7.5mm machinegun ammunition. (Most similiar to the irl Type 30 Arisaka.)

1 x 2-barrel Coach Gun
A short, wieldy 10g double barrel.

Supplies

Pictures

35mm

  • Camp New retreating into the distance x 2

Exposures Left: 94/96

120mm

  • Life Bodunth village x 4 (good lighting)
  • Abandoned town at the edge of a quiet wood x 4
  • Townlet of Marna x 2
  • Onora Town Hall x 2
  • Onora Post Office x 2
  • Onora Rail x 4

Exposures Left: 32/50

Background

People

Captain Anya

NCO Girl

General Naig
Left the public eye soon after the disaster of December Storm.

Strategy Point Duty Crew

An former wayhouse on the west side of Strategy Bridge. Three stories with an abandoned post office and everything. Now surrounded by a modular poured concrete palisade.

Karen
A Glasses Girl with long, dark hair. Seems fairly responsible.

Perse
A small girl with messy but distinguishable twin tails. Shy?

Places

League Capital

Thiers Ward
A middle class university town.

Balgar Ward
One of the worst industrial districts.

Other Districts

South Landsbruck

Ostland

Things

Hadepug - A breed of pug who instinctively detect death and/or reanimation. Ubiquitous throughout the League. Its imperial counterpart is the Heavenhound, which is more of a robust, aggressive, baying guard dog.

Tech

Laws

Fence Laws - A set of laws requiring the subdivision and fencing off of fields as a safety measure and maintaining stocks of timber or other building materials for speedy repairs in cases of damage.

Door and Hospice Laws - Regulations regarding doors in the home and in hotels, inns, brothels and other places of residence. Most shanties and many other locales including, oddly enough, some prisons, aren't compliant. This obligates the elderly and infirm to be admitted to notorious state hospices where they are arguably more likely to die.

Belphoe's Exception - Neither the act of disposing of a body nor the method used, so long as it was effective, shall be admissable as evidence against the person in a court of law. Of significance in murder cases.

Zombie Lore

Rumours

  • The mystery meat is rat meat.
  • Bodies are being cremated with piles of money in South Landsbruck.
  • The fleet is idling in port, requisitioned so that the rich can live on them for now, just in case.
  • There's something weird with the undead out there.