Turn Appalachia (SD)
Welcome to Appalachia
It is year 714 AC (Apocalypse Calender), 714 years since fire rained from the sky and the world ended. Over the long, hard centuries the ways of civilization have been relearned. Technologies rediscovered, philosophies reformulated, cities rebuilt. The Great War of 668-671 was truly the war to end war, with cannons and gatling guns demonstrating what industrialized warfare was like.
Now, two generations later, a new danger stalks the land and threatens to upset the era of Civilization. It is unknown just who broke the first taboo but explorers and miners have uncovered ancient weapons, sealed away for a millenia. Armed with these giant mechanical fighting vehicles the various republics and monarchies of the east coast have begun to return to the old ways. The specter of war once again looms over the east. Even more concerning is that the rate of discovery is increasing; some suggest that the activation of some has hastened the awakening of others.
A few also speak of reports - rumors, really - of mysterious invaders from space, though these are generally dismissed.
The Republic of Appalachia
Appalachia is a presidential republic, though one that retains a strong influence from the pre-revolution nobility. Centered around the ancient American state of Maryland, Appalachia stretches north to the Island of Mannatan and south to the Carolinas swamps. Like the other states in the east, Appalachia is at roughly 1910s (pre-Apocalypse Calender) technology, though petroleum is limited mostly for airplanes, with land-based mechanical transport being via trains or steam-powered cars - when it's not with horses or other draft animals. Appalachia has seven states and its capital and largest city is Piedmont, built near the now-buried ruins of Baltimore.
The climate of Appalachia is generally mild on the coast, though substantial winter snows are typical in the mountains. Old pre-Apocalypse records (fragmentary as they are) generally paint a picture that modern Appalachia (all of America, in fact) is somewhat warmer than it was before the Apocalypse. The forests of Appalachia are thick and fast-growing, cleared in many places for farms or for timber. Mining for coal and ores is centered in the mountains, though the ancient pre-Apocalypse cities are rich in refinable metals.
The dominant religion in Appalachia is the Redemption Church of Christ, a somewhat moderate church that preaches hard work and understanding is the key to avoiding a second Apocalypse. Other churches do exist, but put together make up less than a third of the churchgoing population. The Great War weakened the hold of the church upon secular life and while many towns nominally still 'close' on sundays, in practice stores open in the afternoons.
The upper classes enjoy the most leisure, health and opportunities in Appalachia; the isolates from plants known from folk remedies for centuries were industrialized in the era of medical advancement after the Great War and the rich and noble were best able to take advantage of this. Chemical birth control, immuno-strengtheners and disease suppressors all contribute to the robust health of the upper classes and those who can afford them. Many young people, men and women both, have taken advantage of this, breaking free of older expectations and social position.
The characters are part of Appalachia's Mechanical Division - whether they like it or not. A peculiarity of many of the ancient war machines is that they will 'imprint' upon a single individual who will be their pilot. The exact mechanism for this is unknown, though some pilots report that the first time they sat in the pilot's seat, blood was drawn from their finger or elsewhere. Others fell into a dream state and felt some inexplicable connection upon awakening. Some have even apparently gained seemingly instinctual if rudimentary abilities to use their machine's abilities, utilizing controls and commands they have no explanation for. What is universal is that all of them have learned broadly by the seat of their pants - even the most skilled pilots will rely on the vast power of their machines, not on their untrained, self-taught piloting skills.
As much as the Appalachian generals would like otherwise, many of their precious machines have imprinted on civilians. Their sheer power - it is believed just one would be able to wipe out an entire nation's army single-handedly - means that their pilots must be treated carefully and military discipline, such as it is, is applied lightly. By some twist of fate, the most powerful (and most unique) ones are the ones most likely to imprint on civilians.
The enormous 'Man-Machines' are typically shaped like 16-20 meter tall armored humans, clad in almost impossibly strong armor and often carrying various weapons of equally impossible power. Some use beams of intense light, others projectiles with no propellant. Many are further armed with weapons removed from warships, immense rifled cannons used like rifles or bulky explosive-filled battlefield rockets. Almost all are capable of some form of flight via an unknown anti-gravity technology.
A mystery is how they stay in fighting condition or what powers them. A few pilots parrot terms such as 'Na-Tek repair systems' without the faintest understanding of what the words mean. Some scholars propose the Man-Machines are in fact alive but all are clearly made of metals, alloys and other non-living substances. Despite this, after seeing scratches slowly fade, some have started to ponder that perhaps the ancient stories of living metal are not so fantastical after all.
Character construction is fairly simple; choose one archetype from each field (Character background, Piloting style, Machine design, Special) to get a general feel for the character. Armed with this, you can build up a character bio.
- Fell Into The Cockpit: You rather literally fell into the cockpit of a Man-Machine. Undoubtedly entirely unprepared for the whole experience the machine has imprinted on you. You'd best make the most of it. This happens more often than you might think.
- Indiana Jones: You managed to find a Man-Machine after some deliberate searching and are probably now out to profit from it.
- Gundamjack: For whatever reason the original discover of a Man-Machine failed to imprint and you got wind of it. One daring heist and flight to a friendly state later, you are a pilot. It may or may not have imprinted upon you since.
- Inheritance: You are the heir to a family secret; a buried, perhaps almost forgotten Man-Machine - until it was your turn to guard it. It has now awakened.
- Ascended Mook: You were specially selected by the Appalachian Military to pilot a recently-uncovered Man-Machine. While like all Man-Machine pilots you have a lot of leeway, you're still answerable to the brass.
- Ace: You're a consummate pilot with a good amount of 'stick' (to steal a term from those barnstorming biplane pilots) time under your belt. No real strengths beyond your professionalism, but no weaknesses either. You are probably the closest thing to an actual trained Man-Machine pilot that Appalachia has.
- Hot Blood: CHARGE! Last one into the fight's a sucker! Common among those who feel they have something to prove or some inferiority to compensate for.
- Technician: Technique is everything. You've got holes in your skillset, but what you're good at, you're really good at.
- Duelist: You specialize in one-on-one engagements, skills honed by time on the Field of Honor. You've taken this attitude into your Man-Machine.
- Prince Ali: You are the master of dirty tricks and surprising strategems. You're not necessarily all that hot in a fair fight though, which is why you always try to make it an unfair fight.
- Leader: You focus on the big picture and can intuit or discern the enemy's intentions, moving your forces to counter them. Not common for Man-Machine pilots due to the inherent problems of coordination.
- Esper: You have a mysterious X-factor that was only properly unlocked inside a Man-Machine. Your senses are sharper and you can sometimes react to things seemingly before they happen or that you have no right to detect.
- Balanced: Your machine was probably a mass-produced design, meant for all-environment all-situation engagements. Rugged, dependable, but kinda unexciting.
- Interceptor: Your machine is designed for speed and agility; it can easily outrun biplanes and the air is seemingly its natural home. However it is relatively lightly armed and armored.
- Mighty Fortress: Your machine is particularly large, featuring an entire list of weapons (some of which you may not even know how to activate) and armor to match. However it is ponderously slow and if it can fly, it is slow and clumsy at it.
- Midseason Ugly: Your machine has some sort of theme and/or gimmick and probably looks rather distorted and weird. It suits you though, and it's undeniably effective.
- Command Armor: Your machine is fairly weedy in base format, but appears to have been specifically designed to carry various 'mission packs' and other doodads, of which you may or may not have. Very flexible - if you have the equipment that's supposed to be fitted.
- All Range Attacker: The main weapons on your machine are remotely-controlled anti-gravity gun pods. While this has some strong advantages, it makes disarming you - even temporarily - a very likely possibility.
- Super Robot: A few of these monster machines, 35-45 meters tall, are known (or at least have been rumored) to exist. Even a single one all but guarantees battlefield supremacy, though their sheer size does make them stand out (even more than Man-Machines already do). Requires Iron Giant in Special, and discussion with the GM as well.
Any background that is not Protagonist should be discussed with the GM before any in-depth character generation is done.
- Protagonist: You are someone swept up in events bigger than them, a background character suddenly put into a leading role. You have no unusual responsibilities and can expect a long road of self-discovery and self-improvement ahead of you. The norm for Man-Machine pilots. Additionally, Protagonists get one skill they are particularly good at, be it piloting airplanes, mechanic, sharpshooting, etc. It is not something specifically related to piloting a Man-Machine but can be quite useful for roleplaying. As a GMly note, this background essentially gives license to 'be the main character' and sometimes do extra-cool stuff at dramatically appropriate time. You're not blessed with goodies, but you get more limelight and more GM laxity.
- Clout: You are someone important in Appalachia. People know you and you can generally summon generalized help via story. Common for nobles or ranking military officers.
- Psionic Supernova: Your esper abilities are incredibly powerful, opening up whole new vistas of mental abilities - if you could only figure out how to control them. Unsurprisingly, you must be an Esper first.
- Master: You are just such an awesome pilot that you can select a second Piloting Style and add its strength to your current one. If you're this good you should probably either be teaching an apprentice or be a bad guy. How did you get so good?
- Glowing Lines: Your Man-Machine is built of particularly sophisticated technology, with some elements seemingly built out of physical energy. Even by the standards of Man-Machines, yours displays unusual and inexplicable abilities.
- Iron Giant: You are the lucky possessor of a Super Robot. (Enables Super Robot in Machine Design)
- Does X Picture look appropriate for my Man-Machine? Man-Machines can look like almost anything, though they tend to not be outright clunky. They also tend to avoid blatantly alien design ethos.
- Does my Man-Machine need feet? Feet are entirely optional. But encouraged.
- Can I have a battlemech? Take Mighty Fortress.
- Can I have a tank? Tanks haven't been invented yet.
- Can I play a Lunarian? Lunarians are just some fool rumor. The idea is absurd, really.
- Can I play an android? Very no.