- 1 Overview
- 2 Characters
- 3 Background
- 4 Character Generation
- 4.1 Starting Character Points
- 4.2 Character Generation Basics
- 4.3 Backstory Traits
- 4.4 Advanced Character Generation
- 5 Other Game Aspects
- 6 Gameplay Rules
- 7 Other Stuffs
You are the (important) crew of a Freeship (which the PCs can name), off having Traveller-esque misadventures.
Brief description here so I can start filling in relevant bits of rules.
Any personal giga-elements (civilian-grade mecha for fighting monsters, small fighters, magic, etc) should be mentioned.
Azaryan Yoo Jin
Gentlewoman Whaler and Monster-hunter, hailing from the Regent Republic of Siyavash.
Wilhelm Eric Domar von Gahlot-Rosenbaum
- Adventurous Mecha Pilot
- Gentleman Noble
Illarion Amir Saltykov
- Foreign Battleship Mafioso
The League has its roots as a primarily merchantile organization, dating back five centuries to the First Charter signed between several of the largest states on Lusitania and the Princedom of Ophiussa. Lusitania had already been a major trader for two centuries, its merchants fairly exploding out into space with the dispersion of the waystorms that had intermittently but commonly rendered star lanes impassible throughout the Eastern Branch. Ophiussa was a relatively poor world, but one rich in natural resources and with a mild, agriculturally-friendly climate. The economic ties between the two worlds became the axis around which the League revolved.
While the chaos of the Dusk Era was not in living memory, the cultural scars remained and the League was not a militant organization. While there were certainly dangers aplenty in a galaxy still mired in a dark age and it was quite common for League merchant ships to be armed, the League proper preferred to avoid the use of force when possible. Indeed, a nascent trade war between the League and Madeira was averted by treaty and the Second Charter, adding that world to the League. In other cases, such as against pirates, the League used a small corps of professional and sometimes mercenary troops to score successes.
After somewhat more than a century of dynamic trading with various worlds across the Eastern Branch, the League faced its first significant military threat. One of the collapsed Hyperborean realms was consumed by a power-seeking cult. Using demon-summoning and other banned magics these former Hyperboreans now dubbed Iblisans launched themselves across space to raid the distant riches of the League with both magic and ship. Something had to be done; the League was simply not set up to engage in major war, especially not on a wide front.
The solution was to prove both in line with the liberal ideals of the League and enduring over the centuries. League ships had long carried arms for self-defense in the rougher parts of visited space and there was no particular shortage of skilled captains, veteran armsmen and learned magi, many of whom unfortunately had more skill then credit. Monetary subsidies from the League's deep pockets in exchange for a period of military readiness and future callup gave the League a force of deep sky militia. While against the Iblisans they did not perform as well as was hoped, they also did not perform as poorly as feared; the League continued to maintain a small force of professional troops but the militias became a cornerstone of military defense.
In the vernacular, Federal ships are those directly operated by the League proper, Nation ships are operated by the individual planetary or national government and Militia ships are those under private ownership but serving under League authority. The former two are what is generally considered the "professional" military, but that said, it was not uncommon for militias to be equally professional. This was particularly common during the four century when it became common for large merchant houses to have dedicated war-spec vessels doing continual militia service in lieu of their own merchant ships which were optimized for profit-making.
While the sky militias were a key military component in keeping the League's trade interests safe - and occasionally loyal - another major element to the League's long history of trade successes was their early partnership with the Vox. While the Vox took some pains to maintain neutrality, it is undeniable that the long-range communication ability of the Vox played a great part in tying the League's merchant empire together while the volume of League message traffic gave the Vox a bedrock to build upon. By the second century of the League's existence, the Vox held extraterritories on almost all worlds touched by the League, tying them together with a network of astral communication.
In addition to the continual if intermittent problems with Iblisan raiders, the late second and early third century of the League saw several other crisis of note. The Particular Six plot was internal and the gravest political threat the League had suffered since its founding. A series of scuffles along the nebulous border with Viteliu saw a number of ship losses both federal and militia until several treaties were signed and in later years the League and Viteliu became significant trade partners then, over the centuries, friends and allies.
Iblisan raids were an intermittent problem for two centuries, but were pushed into irrelevance not by the League, but by the expanding Rigairyan Empire. The southern empire was fueled by a sense of manifest destiny to reconnect the lost Rutasan worlds. This paradoxically meant they were both aggressive in taking what they felt was rightfully theirs but were not interested - officially - in conquest simply for the sake of conquest. Abutting Iblisan space, their series of wars and eventual victory against the Iblisan warlords gave the League a half-century respite from significant organized military actions. This state of affairs was ultimately not to last as the Rigairyan Empire itself expanded towards the League, laying claim to various intervening systems.
The Rigairyan Empire was quite willing to sign various border treaties, but unfortunately their government was a complicated organization of sub-units; principalities, duchies, counties, Free Imperial Cities and other domains, each of which with their own militaries and ambitions. The central government only had so much ability to reign them in and so long the various principalities didn't make too many waves in the process, was willing to turn a blind eye to most cross-border pinprick reaving. This reached its epitome in the Gunsar War, a three-year border conflict that eventually saw the Rigairyan Empire's imperial government step in and force an end to the spiralling conflict.
While the Rigairyan Empire was never considered a truly good neighbor - and with reason - they were also interested in cross-border trade which could be quite lucrative. In fact, it was not uncommon for different principalities to trade across the border at different times and sometimes even working to sabotage each other. It has never been proven, but it is generally accepted wisdom that the Rigairyan Empire's imperial government allowed this to keep the various border statelets busy with each other as opposed to unifying into a potential alternate political center. It is by the grace of the Hidden Gods that long association had quieted the Rigairyan border when the greatest threat that the League has faced began to manifest itself: the Khanate.
Like many other successful empires the Khanate was expansionistic, moving into the power vaccum of surrounding hinterspace. What set the Khanate apart was that it was all but alone in having (re)discovered an ability to open Godspaths. Having used this intermittently to bypass cumbersome star lane junctions and waystorms, the Khanate eventually found itself with a direct route to the immediate League border. It did not take long for tensions to explode into conflict, the first of several on the border.
A history of the Khanate Wars would (and has) filled many volumes. In briefest, the League proved unexpectedly resilient and, once a generation or so, proved this against Khanate aggression. The League was not always the hapless defender though, in two instances conflicts started by militia ships crossing the border and attacking Khanate targets. Most of these wars were short, as one historian put it, "mostly so the Khanate could show to itself that the League still could not be easily defeated on the field of battle". The periods of peace - interbellum periods, really - were longer than those of open conflict, but were still marked by the occasional border scuffle, baiting and proxy struggle.
This situation changed for the worse in the Seventh War. While most of the wars to date were relatively inconclusive affairs, the the Seventh War dragged on for several years and ended with a bang; the Falco Offensive. This massive push by carefully-hoarded federal warships pushed deep into Khanate space and threatened several important worlds. Faced with unexpected military reversals and disorganized defenses, the Khanate sued for peace. Cognicent of their own limits, the League halted in place in what became known as the Falco Ceasefire.
Later historians have generally cast the Falco Ceasefire as the great missed opportunity. With the Khaganate thrown back and in a position of vulnerability after the Falco Offensive, it may have been possible to extract an honorable and/or durable peace. Unfortunately, several smaller League states were determined to extract their 'pound of flesh' and pushed for a hardline position, something that the leaders of Santo Ouro were willing to accomodate in their triumphalist warmth of victory. This resulted in slow and unserious peace efforts with excessive demands tabled and continual breakdowns, though with no outright return to shooting conflict.
What truly killed the peace though and doomed both powers to another generation of industrialized war was the covert support by the League for the Rouans, a Khanate dominion that was becoming increasingly at odds with the central government. The Rouans eventually tried to seize power in the Khanate, influenced by League agent provocateurs and supported by League money and intelligence. With much of its military spread across the border to protect against a potential renewed attack by the League, the Khanate only had so much resources to deploy against the uprising. Scratch squadrons were formed up from individual ships pulled out of all corners of the empire and the skirmishing continued for most of a year. The Rouan fleet was eventually defeated by newly-formed squadrons of Khanate dragonships at the Battle of Chuluut. With their internal borders secured and with evidence of League perfidy, after a short period to consolidate their fleets and territories the Khanate tore up the ceasefire and began a heavy assault on the occupied zone. The next decade would be the Eighth War.
By the end of the war - three decades long with less than a decade of peace interspersed, a situation without precedent in the League's five century history - many of the internal boundaries in the League had been weakened or washed away. More than one small state was ultimately absorbed into Santo Ouro, sometimes before they were even liberated. Many others took their politicial cues from Santo Ouro, becoming de facto satellite states. A minority maintained more independent policies, but ultimately the peace was shaky and long bonds of amity meant that any differences tended to be relatively limited.
The long war had normalized many traits that were to be less than salutory in the fresh peacetime environment. While the League states were still (generally) democratic, it was many elections since anyone who wasn't a ranking officer or technocratic industrialist had been elected to high positions. Legislative assemblies had become rubberstamp institutions for the plans cooked up by the military-industrial complex powerbrokers. Entire generations had grown up and come to age when the military was preeminent and uniforms had become ubiquitous across all sectors of society. Civil liberties were curtailed due to the demands of secrecy and warfighting. It would be wrong to say that there was malice or even a deliberate choice, but many of the League's democracies had become somewhat illiberal democracies in practice even as they loudly proclaimed otherwise. Social pressure to conform saw to that.
On objective analysis, postwar Santo Ouro (and most other League governments) had become fundamentally corrupt and undemocratic, essentially turning into 'managed democracies' as the engrained habits of a wartime democracy continued - few voters even remembered a time before the war when talk was looser and control less stringent. A war record - and often an [i]impressive[/i] war record - was all but required for high officials in both government and business and the latter had long been operating hand-in-glove with the military. The postwar drawdown had dealt a huge blow to many industries dedicated to making arms and huge fortunes were made as the quickest or best-connected snapped potential competitors up for peanuts. Unofficial backroom channels were the main channels of power as many of the relationships forged while in uniform endured even after the uniforms were retired.
The post-war situation the League finds itself in with its Khanate enemy slow-walking into a warring states period is, surficially, one of local preeminance. Unfortunately, this is a structure built on sand. For example:
- Viteliu is under threat by the Duilio Fleet.
- Khanate occupation zones are restless.
- The Rigairyan Empire has reconsolidated itself after several generations of relatively weak central governance and general malaise.
- Profitable long range League trade through the Godspath to the Northern Leaf has been supplanted by local Northern Leaf powers.
All of these problems both domestic and foreign are masked by the genial post-war glow and relatively tame public politics that are more about consensus and a unified front than a heated oppositional style. Continuity and stability was the zeitgeist in the public sphere and, as they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. A few voices have been raised against the lack of truly effective democracy in the League, but most citizens are simply content with getting on with the business of not being at war. It is an open question how long this will last though; will this be the League's new golden age as the peace dividend pays off or will it get mired in corruption and stasis?
The Sky Militias are one of the defining institutions of the League, having existed in one form of another since soon after the Second Charter was signed, four centuries ago. As mentioned, the sky militias are civilian ships (IOW, freighters and other merchant shipping) built with government financing. In return for this, they include various features of use for combat such as reinforced hull structures for fitting armor and weapons, robust or redundant power conduits and engine rooms that can be expanded. The crew and/or owners are also registered, typically serving a period primary call-up for seven years and secondary call-up for a further fourteen. Some extend this even longer, taking a stipend to continue on the reserve rolls. Other minor (or not so minor) benefits accrue to members of the sky militia to further incentivize it, such as preferential docking and regulatory access.
While the sky militia ships are not equal to a dedicated and purpose-built warship, this is not seen as critical. They can be used to bolster federal/national warships or take their place in lower-priority sectors. Plus, from a budgetary perspective they are only a modest individual outlay and are revenue sources during peacetime. And it must be remembered, there are a lot of them.
In addition to the combatant power of the militia ships, they provide a large pool of spacemen who have gotten at least the basics weapons handling, damage control and other vital skills. This provides a ready reserve and skill nucleus for wartime expansion. More than one captain has brought his entire crew to leap into action in a newly-commissioned raider for fame and prize money. As a less-publicized side to this, the implicit threat that a posse of League Freeships is but a couple days of hard work in a pirate port away from bombarding an uppity's potentate's palace has contributed to a measure of stability and safety for League merchants in hinterspace.
Of course, freely arming tens of thousands of merchant crews with the skills (and more than occasionally the weapons) to wage their own private wars is not without consequence. While there is a long-standing understanding that Leaguemen do not battle Leaguemen - that just cuts profits for everyone - this is not nearly so understood when it comes to non-Leaguers. While no notable atrocities have occured within living memory, in the aftermath of the Khanate War there is an all-time number of militiaships plying the starways, all full of battle-hardened men and all in pursuit of profit.
An ancient empire though one substantially diminished even before the start of the Great War, Viteliu has long been on the League's border with a mutual relationship that can be characterized as "friendly neutrality". The expansion of the Khanate also brought into mutual contact and unlike that with the League, Viteliu and the Khanate managed decent relations and stable borders. However as the seventh war began to drag out and expand, a secret pact was signed between the League and Viteliu by the pro-League Imperator Alfonso II. This saw the exchange of intelligence and then, four years into the grinding conflict with the Khanate, the unexpected entry of Viteliu into the war on the side of the League.
While the Khanate was aware of the pro-League drift of Viteliu, until the declaration of war they (and it must be said, most Vitelans) they were seen as an armed neutral who continued to trade with both sides in the conflict and intermittently even tried to broker a ceasefire. As such the Vitelan border was relatively lightly defended and primarily used as a rest and refit area. The sudden transit of multiple League numbered fleets through what was until then a non-belligerent territory took the Khagante by the surprise; the Falco Offense smashed deeply into the Khanate, hastily assembled front-line forces stiffening the barely prepared second-line and recovering forces. The loss of significant territory forced them to the bargaining table and a ceasefire was called. This lasted for six years, during which time no durable peace was reached. See the entry on FALCO CEASEFIRE. While there was a not-insignificant amount of questioning regarding throwing away their traditional neutrality and relationship with the Khanate, the acquisition of several Khanate border provinces by the Vitelan flag was a salve and 'proof' of the power of Viteliu.
The re-ignition of the war saw the Viteliu front come to preeminence. While hardly a weak force, the Viteliu fleets were spread thinly over the territories captured during the Falco Offense nominally ceded to them and even with additional warships from the other League powers supporting them they could not properly defend the massive bubble of captured territory against a renewed Khanate assault. Within a year the front line had collaped back to the pre-Falco borders, the Viteliu fleet having suffered not-inconsiderable losses in the process. At that point the offense stalled, but only long enough for fresh forces to be brought up on both sides - and over the next six years the Khanate pushed forward and seized much of Viteliu, including the capital. For the remaining years of the Eighth War, the Viteliu forces were almost always on the defensive, grimly struggling to simply hold their remaining systems against Viteliu pushes. The few successful offenses were matched by retreats and steadily they were ground down into a client state of Santo Ouro.
The Second Ceasefire was not much more than a respite for Viteliu. With both the League and Khanate facing internal problems and war fatigue Viteliu was no longer under immediate threat, but the reduction in aid from the League states also meant that their economy could not meaningfully recover from its wartime tatters. Populist movements grew strong and while there was nothing as extreme as an overthrowing of the Imperator, his control over the state was progressively sidelined by the military. With the mutual collapse of the second ceasefire the Great War entered its third and deadliest phase.
By the Ninth War Period, the demands on Viteliu had caused the draft net to be spread so widely that many women were not just enlisted into combat positions, but even began to hold combat officer ranks - something otherwise unknown in the various League forces. Vitelan armed resistance continued to be heavily subsidized by League resources, though with the main locus of the war being elsewhere this half-decade was marked mostly by smaller scale back-and-forth and attempts to gain local advantages as opposed to the massive fleet engagements happening elsewhere. Several mid-sized campaigns were mounted over the years, but the only major campaign was the offense led by Admiral Duilio, an operation undertaken almost entirely with husbanded Vitelan assets. This turned out to be one of the last offensive efforts of the war, and came very close to liberating the Vitelan capital worlds only to be brought short by the sudden ceasefire between the Khanate and the League as the Ilkhan was slain on the bridge of his dragonship while observing a battle while the Duilio offensive was recouperating for its final push.
While this ceasefire brought an end to the fighting, the situation was fundamentally unstable on the Vitelan front. Despite the destruction done by both sides during Duilio's offense, neither side had managed to get an enduring military advantage and the massive sacrifices undertaken in the total war stance of the final phase of the war had dropped domestic stability and military morale to rock-bottom levels. Having fought almost to their symbolic victory and then with backing from their allies removed as both armed blocs froze in place, the Vitelan fleet under Admiral Duilio found itself suddenly facing two unpalatable choices; carry on and essentially abrogate the shaky ceasefire when it came to Viteliu or return home to the rump Viteliu state. It was believed that Duilio would accept the order to do the latter.
It is widely rumored that the reason Duilio chose this extreme path was a deep and abiding antipathy between him and Prime Minister Mazeri, with who Duilio had sparred publically for several years. Many believe that the admiral was going to be swiftly removed from any position of power to ensure that a popular war hero would not cause problems for the PM. From private interviews, Duilio even admits that he considered calling for a march on the new capital and only the existence of a large League defense force that was sure to come to the aid of the 'legitimate' government stayed his hand from a civil war. Instead, he ejected the League soldiers from his fleet and took his fleet - and much of the rest of the Viteliu military, which followed his calls for 'all true Viteliu patriots' - and vanished into the purlieu on the edge of wild space. To this day, Viteliu has been unable or unwilling to muster the forces to bring the rogue admiral to heel.
The Khanate has its origins in the discovery of a Hyperborean relic by the inhabitants of a former slave world. Unlocking even the most basic of its functions took a century, but both the relic's power and the various technomagical advancements that came of the long research were more than worth it. Deep in hinterspace the proto-Khanate had nothing but room to expand, and expand it did.
After the initial wave of local conquests that solidified its position in the solar system of Xia, the young Khanate began to expand, eventually adopting the strategy of assimilation that served it well for the subsequent centuries. This generally followed the model of nibbling away at the edges then demonstrating overwhelming force, finally followed by selecting a client group who would be elevated to the status of 'Khans' and treated as if they were true-blooded Khanates. Others not of this group were encouraged both subtly and overtly to adopt Khanate culture. This, however, was not a one-way street, and the Khanate showed surprising flexibility in likewise diffusing conquered cultures, in essence 'flavoring' the original Xian culture.
Bonds between the Khanate and their new additions were further cemented by military actions against enemies on behalf of the new fiefs. A popular strategy was to turn the warmaking abilities and troops of the most recent conquest against the next one, conveniently dealing with the problems of demobilizing the wartime force of a newly-conquered realm. This gave the Khanate a reputation for 'barbarism', particularly in more distant locales that had contact only with the border troops.
Both the League and Khanate were aware of each other long before they rubbed up against one another, but distance and general lack of reliable communication meant that both sides misestimated the other. This played directly into the eventual wars, as the Khanate arrogantly thought that the League was just a larger version of the 'barbarian' kingdoms it had taken over the preceeding centuries, one made of merchants that would collapse in a real fight. Unfortunately for the Khanate, this was not to be.
The death of the Ilkhan at the BATTLE OF PLACE was an unexpected blow to the Khanate, throwing the imperial government into turmoil. A relatively young man, the Ilkhan still sought to burnish his position and encourage his troops by being near the front lines. It was misfortune that saw a heavy League raiding force slip into what was thought to be a secure system and further misfortune that saw the dragonship Tai Wang take a plasma torpedo into its upper decks. The Ilkhan was merely one of more than a dozen VIPs slain in the attack.
Less difficult times would have likely seen the Khanate forge through the sudden upset, but the long war had strained various long-hidden faultlines. Power abhors a vaccum and ambitious Khans stepped in where the imperial government was paralysed. Two years after the death of the Ilkhan, the imperial court removed itself from the ancient capital of Xia, precipitating a further collapse in Khanate central power. It is an open question how long it will take before an ambitious lord moves against another.
Start with 750 CP and 3 careers. We'll sort out additional LP stuff progressively as things get built out.
Starting Character Points
All characters have two pools of creation points. These are Character Points and Legend Points.
- Character Points (CP) are what makes up the character as an individual and as a being. They are used to buy attributes, skills, traits and other aspects of a character. All characters start with a certain number of character points and acquire more through game progressing. In essence, CP and the RPG concept of 'experience points' are synonymous.
- Legend Points (LP) are what makes your character larger than life, or otherwise special. This covers a broad spectrum of options; genotypes, powerful cyborg enhancements, exotic personal possessions, vehicles and spacecraft, followers and organizations are all things purchased with legend points. The key difference between character points and legend points is that the latter are only available at character generation. This does not mean that the things purchased with LP cannot be acquired in the course of a campaign, but they are the result of hard work and may often be campaign objectives on their own.
The number of CP and LP available at character generation is determined by the GM, however 750 CP is the suggested starting amount for characters who are reasonably capable without being polymath experts. LP can be much more variable and strongly depends on the style of campaign desired. 0 LP would give you characters who are 'everyday joes' with day jobs, mortgages, etc - Friends in space. Progressively adding LP will inflate the scale at which the characters operate on, as opposed to their ability to do so. Alternatively, the GM may provide LP equivalents, such as a spaceship that the party collectively uses as opposed to one character 'owning' it, or default careers for all characters.
Character Generation Basics
Base stat cost table
Level 1 - 1 CP
Level 2 - 3 CP
Level 3 - 6 CP
Level 4 - 10 CP
Level 5 - 15 CP
Level 6 - 21 CP
Level 7 - 28 CP
Level 8 - 36 CP
Level 9 - 45 CP
Level 10 - 55 CP
In short, the base cost to improve a stat costs (current level + 1). Cost multipliers depending on what is being purchased (attributes, skills, etc) are then applied.
All characters have a milieu, representing the sort of environment they grew up in and what sort of skills and paradigms they were trained in. Milieus provide two main aspects to a character:
- Initial skills
- Favored Arete
- Heavy Metal gets the Grit arete specialty
- Sword and Starship gets the Elan arete specialty
- Infospace gets the Focus arete specialty
Characters have a set of attributes representing key elements of themselves. Each has a distinct but broad effect. They are as follows, with the following six being Core Attributes. All core attributes have a cost modifier of x5.
- Physique: This is the raw physical prowess of your character while she is on her own two feet, governing everything from strength, agility, endurance and athleticism. It also covers general physical fortitude and G-resistance.
- Wits: This is your character's ability to react well to rapidly-changing situations and not be caught with your jaw on the floor when something unexpected occurs.
- Perception: How finely-tuned your character's senses are, as well, it covers fine detail work and hand-eye coordination (yes, this means you play videogames with Perception).
- Intellect: This is your character's mental acuity and memory, both short and long term.
- Charisma: This is your character's ability both to sway people to your side and to pick up on subtle social clues.
- Willpower: This is your character's mental fortitude and stick-to-it both mentally and physically.
Plus is just how well your character thrives against adversity. Pluck has no direct effect on dice rolls, but is instead used to modify rolls, or reroll them. While not considered a core attribute, Pluck also has a cost modifier of x5.
- All characters have one (or more) special conditions under which they recover Pluck. The first is free, every additional Pluck Condition costs 5 Character Points.
- Pluck recovers slowly (ie, full recovery at the end of a full story arc, or some major successful milestone), but it can also be recovered by deliberately throwing rolls. The first time in a session that you throw away successful roll (ie, converting it to a failure), you recover 1 Pluck. To recover an additional Pluck, you must throw two additional rolls. To recover three, you must throw three more, etc etc.
- If the roll has margin of success (opposed rolls, for example), throwing a successful roll turns it into a roll of '0', plus base attribute/skill bonuses.
- You automatically recover 1 Pluck at the start of each session.
- When a friendly units is shot down, you recover 1 Pluck. If you're present when a bunch of civilians are killed, regain all Pluck.
- When you personally shoot down an enemy, you recover 1 Pluck. This can be destroying them outright or forcing them to pull out (only applies if they have lost at least 50% of their Durability).
Nightmare of Solomon
- If you inflict Severe damage on a ship or other large vehicle, you regain 1 Pluck. If you sink it with your attack, regain all Pluck.
- If you are reduced to 50% or less Durability, you recover all Pluck.
- If you personally kill a lot of (innocent) people, regain all Pluck. You sick fuck.
- This is essentially the generalized 'excellence' of your character, even more holistic than the core attributes. The primary use of arete is to activate a character's special abilities. Arete abilities cover a broad number of options, and range from the mundane (overcharging the power core) to the fantastic (summoning forth the spirits of those who died in this battle to empower allies). All, however, are cinematic to a greater or lesser extent.
- Arete comes in three subtypes, listed below. All characters have access to all three arete specialties - in a pinch a cosmo-knight could still buckle down and overcharge a power core if things depended on it and a hacker can still stop bullets with their trusty katana - but each of the three milieus strongly favors one arete specialty.
- Grit is the ability to do the right thing correctly and without any undue fuss, often in the nick of time. While this may not sound sexy, it is the solid get 'er done that gets things done. Grit is particularly good at getting the best performance out of hardware and keeping a plan or group together through adversity.
- Elan is the energy of motion and enthusiasm, the stereotypical stylish heroics. Elan is in fact all about motion and enthusiasm, with high risk, high reward tactics being the providence of Elan - be it on the battlefield or in the ballroom. Sometimes this even goes to the points of inflicting self-damage in the rush to perform.
- Focus is putting all faculties to the task at hand. It is the most intellectual of the three arete specialties, letting one come up with flawless plans or smoothly executing through a chaotic situation.
Unlike attributes which are generalized across all characters, skills are specific fields of study and practice. Skills are also divided up into four difficulty ratings; Favored (F), Neutral (N), Unfavored (U) and Very Unfavored (V). These have a cost multiplier of x2, x3, x4 and x5 respectively. Some character generation choices may adjust the difficulty rating of skills, adjusting them up or down.
- It is possible (due to multiple overlapping backgrounds) to have skills that are easier than favored, or more difficult than very unfavored. In these cases each grade beyond adds a bonus +1 or -1 as appropriate to the skill level.
- Pilot (N): Every rank of Pilot provides +1 to gunnery defense in an aircraft.
- Drive (N): Learning to drive a tank is a lot like driving a bike. Honest.
- Gunnery (U): Every rank of Gunnery provides +1 on offense when using non-guided weapons.
- Melee (N): Every rank of Melee provides +1 to both Melee offense and defense in both person and in melee-capable vehicles.
- Electronic Warfare (U): Every rank of Electronic Warfare provides +1 to all offensive and defensive rolls involving guided weapons, sensors and the like.
- Gunplay (N): Every rank of Gunplay provides a +1 to all relevant rolls when fighting in person, with the exclusion of melee weapons - from handguns to rocket launchers.
- Leadership (U): Every rank of Leadership provides +1 to all Command rolls.
- Zero-G (U): True zero-gravity movement training is not uncommon, but it remains difficult to master without extensive and continuous effort.
- Mechanic (N):
- Fieldcraft (N):
- Terrorism (U): How to be a terrorist, or how to think like one. Useful not just for insurgents but for investigators as well.
- Helm (N):
- Command (U):
- Etiquette (N): A general ability to be presentable and well-heeled in social situations.
- Code of Conduct [Group] (F): Some groups have particularly specific and often esoteric social rituals that would otherwise trip up the uninitiated - often by design. Effectively, this is etiquette for the unusual.
- Streetwise [Field/Location] (F): Streetwise is a character's ability to make their way through the shadier parts of the cosmos; knowing the little things about who to talk to, where to find them, etc.
- Academics [Field] (N):
- Athletics (N):
- Ether Retention (N): A little bit of appropriate exercise goes a long way to improving a body's ability to naturally retain ether and, more importantly, make it available for use.
- Body Magic (U):
- Spellcasting (U):
- High Magic (V):
- Awareness (N):
- Commerce (U):
- Bureaucracy (N):
Traits and Flaws
Backstory Traits are those that represent important elements of your character's history before the OVA. While it is possible to acquire them in-game, this a function of story events. The value in (brackets) is their CP cost during character generation.
- While most protagonists tend to be relatively new at this whole ‘heroing’ thing (though not, let it be known, does this mean it is solely the domain of the young – see James Links) there are some who have had their time in the spotlight in the previous anime. These characters are better pilots, generally higher ranked and simply more skilled, having had an entire season or more of combat under their belt (or the backstory equivalent, if you’re Roy Fokker). They get +1 rank in Piloting and Gunnery or Command.
- God certainly must protect fools and lovers, because you're a fool that loves a good challenge and you haven't died yet. Your entire life is a litany of guts, determination and sheerest foolhardiness. At the start of any turn you can channel your inner heat and by spending 1 Pluck, get a +2 to all rolls and defenses for the turn. Furthermore, the first time a friendly unit is shot down, you get +1 to all rolls and defenses for the rest of the battle. However, you can be psychologically vulnerable and be easy prey for enemy deception and tricks. You're also unable to understand that your subordinates might not be able to keep up with you or that your commanding officer has a plan more subtle than 'Charge and win!'; consequently you only get (and provide) half the bonus from any Command effect.
Paragon Interrupt (25)
- Your past includes some notable incident of heroism in the line of duty. Perhaps you held the line around the perimeter of the refugee camps on Rwanda Minor, or saved the Loum Colony from crashing. No matter the specifics (which should be detailed in your bio) you are seen as an exemplar of proper behavior. This gives you a charisma bonus of +1 to +3 in most situations, especially where being a hero would be relevant and even your enemies will give you a certain amount of respect. The downside is that you are bound the expectations of your history; there are few things more despicable than a fallen paladin. Note that this does not imply a code of honor - a code of honor is internal to the character, whereas Paragon Interrupt is the expectations of others. It is entirely possible to be an atrocious monster and yet still have Paragon Interrupt - so long as you manage to keep people from drawing a connection between one and the other.
- Your physiology has been modified to include a layer of photosynthetic cells in your skin; while this doesn't mean you can subsist solely off sunlight and water, it does give you a pleasant feeling of energy during the day. During daytime, you get +1 to all your rolls and defenses. During night, you get -1.
- In the past you’ve cultivated a rivalry with another skilled pilot, often the inevitable side-effects of not managing to finish the job in the previous season. They will often bedevil you and while they can cause serious setbacks, they also mean that you can have episodes centered upon you and only you. Plus, spoiling their undoubtedly villainous plots is sweet sweet victory.
- You’re a government experiment in pilot uniform. You got the benefits of being able to control funnels, dodge incoming blasts you shouldn’t really be dodging, but you also got the downside of ranging from ~moe pill~ addition, being eccentric to batshit crazy and also technically being government property. You automatically get the Aleph Skills Newtype Flash and one other combat related ability at no Aleph point cost. For the purposes of power level, you have an Aleph rating of 4.
Earned Traits are those that can be acquired during the course of the OVA - as a character matures, they may develop new abilities or quirks. All Earned Traits may also be bought during character generation, in which case they are already-established elements of the character.
No Such Thing As Overkill (25)
- You love big guns, though you'll also gleefully accept lots of guns. If you are in a vehicle with more than one weapon system, you can opt to do an 'Alpha Strike', firing all your weapons at once. You may engage multiple targets as well, with -1 to all attack rolls for every target after the first engaged. While doing an Alpha Strike you may not move, as you're too busy firing away, and you take a 25% reduction to all defenses. As well, you ignore melee weapons as useless and always have a -1 to Melee rolls and defenses.
- The way of the (beam) sword is the one you follow, and you have become particularly skilled in deflecting enemy melee attacks by doing a continuous parry and dodge. This gives you the ability to increase your defense in melee by sacrificing your opportunity to attack. SPECIFICS TBD Additionally, if properly equipped with energy melee weapons or similar, you can even potentially defend against ranged attacks with your melee weapons.
Made Of Iron (50)
- Your character shields are so strong they extend to your mecha, like some sort of slasher film bad guy. And like them, whatever you're flying just seems to soak impossible hits as it cra-a-a-a-awls across the screen. Maybe you know how to angle your torso block just right so the shots deflect, or perhaps you're just supernally lucky. No matter how you do it, anything you're flying increases the thresholds for all non-glancing hits by +2, however, your vehicle also suffers a -1 penalty to Speed and Thrust the moment you get behind the controls.
Type Master (50)
- You’ve intensive trained, having never been defeated in 2000 simulated engagements. Unfortunately your winning streak comes to an end when you encounter a Gundam. But just wait until you face off against a force of Mobile Dolls . . . You are particularly skilled against a particular type of unit or pilot, such as Mobile Dolls, Super Robots, Mobile Armors, Gundams, Newtypes, White Rose Guards, etc. Due to your almost instinctive understanding of their strengths and weaknesses you get a +2 bonus to all rolls and defenses when fighting them. Note that ‘Conventional Mecha’ or other similarly broad types are not valid choices.
Fan Favorite (25)
- You are The Patrick. You might not be omnicompetent and flying the top-end craft like some, but your popularity ensures that you’ll survive all but the most ridiculous situations (or, of course, deliberate self-sacrifice). Note that generally this advantage won’t apply if you’re the best of the best; Kira Yamato never needed to be a Fan Favourite to survive. Fan Favorite adds your Charisma to your mecha's Durability.
Char Custom (25)
- This ability adds Charisma to Thrust.
- This ability adds 50% of Charisma to all Melee rolls. It might also make you a bit of a prick.
- This ability adds 50% of Charisma to all Melee defenses.
- You get a +2 bonus to all rolls and defenses for survival, tracking, fighting, etc when acting outside of a vehicle. Undoutedly comes with many stories of the time you narrowly escaped the Lizard-Gorillas of Ceti Alpha Seven.
- Quirks are minor things about that character that are distinctive to them. They may have minor situational effects, but in general they are intended for roleplaying fodder. The number of quirks required for every 5 bonus points is as per attribute ranking - ie, to return 5 point it requires 1 quirk, to return 10 points it requires 3, to return 15 it requires 6 (!), etc.
Advanced Character Generation
Specifics very much TBD and will be iterated upon during gameplay. The following are basic elements:
- Conceptually, magic is naturalistic to the world. It has cause and effect, following internal logic.
- Several 'schools' of magic exist. Note that the dividing line between each can be blurry.
- Body Magic is the simplest and most common form of magic, essentially magically-enhanced martial arts and physical exercises. Body magic is internal-focussed, the use of a body's natural ether to boost various aspects of physical or sometimes mental performance.
- Hedge Magic is closely related to body magic, though externalizing the ether effect instead of internalizing. Hedge magic tends to generate relatively unsophisticated effects, limited by the mental control the practioner has over the ether flow.
- Low Magic is a comprehensive, refined form of magic that, while not necessarily more powerful than body or hedge magic, can perform more sophisticated efects. Low magic supplements or externalizes the magical process with a focus. Colloquially, when people talk about everyday magic, they are talking about low magic.
- High Magic is essentially the logical endpoint of low magic, moving effectively all the actual magical processes are outside of the mage. At this point the wizard fills a controlling role as opposed to being an active participant in the magical process itself - given the magnitude of the energies used in high magic, in many cases this would not be survivable.
- Spells are defined in ability and result, but have variable effects due to both roll (quality of spell) and ether expenditure (more raw power).
- In addition to being predefined, spells are not universally available; they must be practiced and/or be present in an appropriate focus.
- Spells can be modified with add-ons; ether reduction, improved or modified effect, etc.
- Spellcasting and spell defense attributes vary, there is no one specific 'magic stat'.
Magic BackgroundBody magic is the simplest and earliest form of magic known, being practiced not just by humans and other sapient, but by many species of flora and fauna. The line between what is body magic and what is etherically-charged biology can become blurry, particularly when discussing sapients that intrinsically have etheric abilities. That said, as generally understood body magic requires some form of training or mental focus, and a basic grounding in body magic is the basis from which all magic training springs from.
The easiest way to channel ether through one's body is to reinforce the natural flow of ether through the body's metabolism, so unnaturally strenghtening muscles and bones, promoting rapid healing and other similar effects were all the oldest methods of ether use. It is commonly accepted that most sapients discovered the secret of body magic long before recorded history akin to the discovery of fire; the one exception is Humans who, at least in some parts of known space, are believed to have discovered ether after the invention of writing. This is one of the cornerstones of the 'Late Human Arrival' theory.<p>
Hedge magic is a natural outgrowth of body magic, progressively externalizing effects as control improves. Like body magic, the history of hedge magic is difficult to ascertain and its believed that many of the earliest methods (like those of body magic) were passed down orally. Some of the oldest known organizations were (or continue to be) schools of body and hedge magic training, often vastly permutated and split from their origins.
Freed - to a certain extent - from constraints of working ether on the body, hedge magic developed a broad spectrum of techniques, ranging from energy manipulation to distance-sensing to simple chemical synthesis. The practical limit on hedge magic is twofold; firstly, it still relies on the body's own ether which sharply limits the scope of any magical effect. Secondly and more importantly, the ability of a caster to control the minutae of the hedge magic can swiftly render effects far too complicated to perform, particularly when there is a poor grasp of the underlying operating mechanisms. For example, hedge magic could be used to smelt and purify metals or heat them up fairly easily, but without a background in chemistry and a working mental model of how the various elemental constituents should be arranged, directly creating quality steel is essentially down to luck.<p> The inherent complexity involved with higher-fidelity magic led to the eventual development of the focus, one of the keys to modern magical practice. An ethero-mental construct, foci allowed for spell workings to be stored, modified and reused. Needless to say, this was a vast improvement over hedge magic which required the caster to essentially prepare the spell from first principles each time. Focus-using cultures repeatedly achieved victory over ones without for the entire Astroclassical period, demonstrating the practical advantages of what we now consider 'low magic'. Continual improvements to foci was sometimes haphazard and sometimes rigorous throughout the Astroclassical and proceeded apace and intertwined with discoveries in hard sciences, but it wasn't until the Magical Revolution that magic truly became commonplace. The societal forces unleashed during the Magical Revolution reshaped many of the most important nations of the day and thus it is generally seen as the dividing line between the Astroclassical and the Dawn Era, with the similarly disruptive and later Industrial Revolution dividing the early Dawn Era from the later Dawn Era (or Golden Era).<p>
Careers are what your character has been trained to do and presumably continues to do. Each career is a set package of stats, skills and traits and is generally the summation of a number of years of both experience and learning. As such, careers are a bonus to any reasonably applicable roll. Like attributes and skills, careers are rated numerically. For example, a character with a perception of 5, gunplay of 5 and the Soldier career (one that would reasonably expected to be competent at handling firearms) at rating 3 would have a cumulative +13 bonus on a gunplay roll.<p> Careers are intended to provide a solid baseline for characters to represent life experiences without needing to worry overmuch about making sure they have all applicable skills for any relevant situation. They are not, however, intended to be rules-lawyered into providing bonuses no matter the circumstance; a cowboy cannot claim his bonus while piloting a fighter no matter how well argued that in WWII some of the best US pilots had experience riding horses. A cowboy that can fly a fighter should have the pilot skill.<p> All careers are purchased with LP and save under exceptional circumstances cannot be improved in gameplay. Characters may purchase different careers to represent a breadth of knowledge and experiences, however the total number of career levels is summed in order to determine the collective cost of acquiring them. Different careers may have a bonus that stacks (an assassin and a soldier would build upon each other's ability to accurately fire a gun) or may not, depending on the situation (an assassin would be at home in the criminal underworld, a soldier not so much).<p> Finally, careers may also unlock Vocations. These are essentially specializations, such as Test Pilot or Two-Fisted Scientist. Vocations provide skill bonuses and may also modify the cost to purchase skills; a test pilot vocation would improve the Pilot skill to Favored, as opposed to Neutral.
- There is a much greater variety of people than the simple cosmetic differences in skin or hair color. The Dawn Era was a time of several millenia-long breeding programs; even centuries later the fruits of these still exhibit unusual strengths. Some have also been guidelines for more modern attempts to either return them to ancient potency or develop entirely new ones de novo. As such and thanks to thousands of years of breeding programs, population movements, isolations and faddish upgrages, known space is a patchwork of various types of humans, near-humans and meta-humans, along with various nonhumans that are also part of the collective galactic civilization.
- Heritage bonuses modify the effective value of your character's stats; heritage modifiers do not increase (or decrease) the cost of a given stat, be this at character generation or during gameplay. Otherwise, they act in all ways as if they were simply part of a character's basic attributes. In essence, they shift the baseline as opposed to being an 'extra'.
- Skin color, hair color, eye color, height, weight, athletic, mental and etheric abilities are all 'normal'; orthodox humans are the primordial stock from which other human heritages are derived and still make up the bulk of known space. Many have been touched by Dawn Era programs, with many alive today living without worry of genetic diseases, wisdom teeth, myopia or other unfortunate foibles thanks to ancient efforts to improve the 'sorry lot of man'. Others have slightly more obvious heritage, such as unusual hair colors, pointed ears, etc. All that aside, orthodox humans are fundamentally, statistically homogeneous.
- Orthodox humans can also represent nonhumans that are sufficiently close to humans in physical and mental abilities to be effectively equivalent. Several such exist, such as lizardmen, though by and large nonhumans comparable to humans have at least some notable difference, be it nothing more than thermal tolerance and lack of cold tolerance.
- Bonus to Pluck
- Most humans in the Northern Leaf (and elsewhere) are orthodox humans.
- Atlantis was a mageocracy for its entire history, and one with a sharp divide between True (or sometimes Ancient) Atlantis which exercised all sovereign power and its numerous satraps, or Greater Atlantis. It was possible to socially climb from the latter to the former, or sometimes fall the opposite direction, but the two did not mix casually. While the inner workings of True Atlantis remain esoteric and often unknown to this day, it is no secret that one of the main preoccupations of the Atlantean population was the creation of ever more powerful mages.
- True Atlanteans are direct descendants of these arcane breeding programs, not the common folk of Greater Atlantis who were by and large orthodox humans. True Atlanteans have significantly improved ether retention and often show a particular talent for magic. On the more physical end of things True Atlanteans are almost universally tall and with less sexual dimorphism than the human norm.
- Bonus to magic and ether
- While the Northern Leaf was home to several antideluvian Atlantean satraps, True Atlateans are rare even in this part of known space and more commonly they are the fruits of experiments to replicate their powers; cyber-newtypes, designer children, etc.
- Lyonesse has a long and storied history of mingling with beings from the astra; notorious as witches when such beings were still feared as demons, the ancient Lyonessans and their fellows sought the power of the astra. They bound these beings to themselves willingly or unwillingly, traded mental, physical and sexual favors and even embraced them as parents to their children. These wild and sometimes feckless adventures led to many things, but one difference between Lyonesse and other similar witches - and in part why Lyonesse became a great power - is that the men and women of Lyonesse never mistook embracing the other with becoming the other.
- As Lyonesse expanded and shifted from an ethnic signifier to a cultural one, care was taken to fix traits deemed collectively important. In parallel, the quest for power or other advantages became an artistic, aesthetic one. Various aesthetically pleasing traits became sought-after and other, more subtle aspects were propagated through the Lyonessan pan-diaspora. The Dia Lyonessans are the archetypical Lyonessan and commonly have various inhuman but attractive changes, often of a fanciful take. In addition, the silver blood of the astra has given Dia Lyonessans an uncanny ability to sense flows of ether.
- Bonus to socialization and navigation
- In addition to Thetis which is mostly Dia Lyonessan, various pockets of Dia Lyonessans exist in places such as Samara, Larsan's World and Belet-Seri.
- An ancient offshoot of humanity, the Alfar/Dokkar are colloquially known as 'elves' today. While sharing a similar origin to the planetouched, they lack the more otherworldly features of the Dia. The Alfar have long exhibited heightened magical sensitivity while the Dokkar were best known for wiry, unexpectedly powerful physiques. One of the other common members of the Lyonessan pan-diaspora, elves were also favored servants (or slaves) to the Atlanteans.
- Alfar bonus to magic/ether??
- Dokar bonus to agility
- The largest concentration of elves in the Northern Leaf is in the Samara-Larsan's World corridor
- Captain America!
- MMO dimorphism?
- Large physical and related bonuses. Also probably very good looking.
- There were relatively Murians in the Northern Leaf and consequently even fewer Prime Murians. Excluding immigrants, those that do exist are the druids of Sarkandis, on Samara.
- Multiple possibilities
- Generated upon request
Other Game Aspects
Specifics very much TBD and will be iterated upon during gameplay. The following are basic elements:
Standard dice rolling is 2D10 + attribute + skill + situational modifier
The stat value used is always temporary attribute or skill. Permanent stat values are the baseline for your character while healthy, rested and generally unstressed. Temporary stat values reflect various internal and external effects, ranging from wounds to pushing yourself 'past the limit' (see rerolls below) to distraction or the like. All changes to stat values come into effect immediately after the roll in question.
Any attribute-based roll may be rerolled. There are two options for this:
- Using a point of Pluck to reroll any check, or to force an opponent to reroll an attack or effect directly affecting the character. Pluck is regained as per a character's pluck regain condition(s).
- Pluck can also be used to boost a roll or a defense, providing a bonus equal to the current temporary Pluck. This option must be exercised before any dice are rolled, and costs one point of temporary Pluck as normal.
- An attribute-based check can also be rerolled by spending a point of temporary attribute; this must be the attribute being used. It may also be used force a reroll on an attack or effect directly affecting the character, again, the attribute point being spent must be the same one as being used on the defense. Unlike Pluck regain which can happen as a result of a character's actions, spending temporary attributes is generally taken as pushing the body or the mind to the limit. As a consequence, regaining temporary attributes requires some sort of rest or relaxation of the appropriate type, starting at one day for a single point and increasing logarithmically from there; a nice sleep will soothe weary eyes and muscles, but PTSD and bone fractures from too many G-forces requires time and therapy of the mental or physical sort to properly recover from.
- The most severe (longest rest time) attribute points is recovered first, followed by the second longest, etc. While multiple attributes can be regained at the same time, it is recommended that characters with significant and broad attribute lost be in rest cycles for longer than normal.
- Energy is essentially useful momentum and can be spent to boost defense or offense. Energy is recovered by thrusting (moving), either picking up speed or regaining full control.
- Expending more energy than your mecha can generate in a turn (or use, if these values are not equal) means you are putting significant strain on it; piloting checks will be required to not inflict damage.
- Multi-turn acceleration is possible; turn radius goes up and minimum movement speed is equal to previous amount moved.
Vehicular Damage Model
Roll damage and compare against Protection Track The protection track is the levels of increasing damage taken, with the following steps. The entries in < brackets > are where defenses go, increasing the values of all subsequent, more critical thresholds. < Shields> - Skin Damage - this represents damage to surface fittings such as radars or unarmored gun mounts. < Armor > - Internal Damage - this is damage that has penetrated the vehicle's skin and armor. - Severe Damage - this represents strikes deep into a vehicle's internal volume, often resulting in one or more systems being taken offline. - Vital Damage - this is damage that will inevitably disable multiple systems and has a likelyhood of completely totalling the vehicle.
Internal damage and above also have stress trackers which represents accumulating generalized structural damage (metal stresses, collapsed bulkheads, loosened armor plates, etc). Every hit that reaches a threshold inflicts 1+ stress and has a critical roll, potentially causing more stress, knocking systems offline, etc. Four events happen every time the stress track fills: 1) The stress tracker is emptied. 2) A critical damage roll is made against the next level up. 3) The stress tracker's length is reduced by 1. (making it faster to fill the stress tracker) 4) The damage threshold is reduced by 1. (making the unit easier to damage)
Larger units have longer stress trackers; it takes more shells to put a meaningful number of holes in a battleship than it does a destroyer. Stress 'ticks' can be shed in battle; loss of protection track thresholds and lengths cannot short of the use of magic.
Lower damage thresholds are primarily provided by protection measures (as shown by the placement of shields and armor), while stress tracks and the highest damage thresholds are mostly up to bulk and construction; consequently the latter are essentially fixed, though obviously removing all the armor makes a shell more likely to pass through.