Really good idea. I especially like the use of the fungus in investigation, as well as the origin tale. Fantastic curse! The Basilik (23rd) legion sounds like it could be a sub on its own, as well as the Necrannen Brethren. 5/5
Moon, your idea is cool: a death throe garden... suitable warning for any enboldened adventurer. Go to Comment
I strongly disagree that this type of institution has to be used in a mostly modern setting. Fear is a basic human emotion, and its affect on people has not changed within the last few thousands of years. Crucifiction, public drawing/quartering, beheadings... are all a form of terrorism on your own populace. And since time immemorial have all been used to harness power.
However, fear comes in many different flavors, and this institution simply takes the subtle approach at conquering the will of the 'common man'. They simply promote ideas that create fear, rather than terrorizing the people themselves
The fact that they sell their services is, in my opinion, secondary to the way they achieve success. I can definitely see this working in roman times, or even before that in Egypt.
Look at all the example of their work: Christian persecution in roman and egyptian times, The inquisition, Witch hunts in America, antisemitism in nazi germany. The list is practically endless and carries on today.
The internet references are clearly set in this day and age, however, recruitment procedures have always happened too. Freemasons, for example (not the conspiracy theory guys, but the real order) have a history of recruiting members, if not secretly, then at least quietly.
Pulp can deal with it by using an evil maniac (instead of a Depresso-Ray, the maniac uses the institue), while fantasy games a demon, and western games a corrupt governor. Technophobia is the fear of technology, but often, fear comes from anything new and mis-understood. New ideas, new people, new religion, etc... And all can be used to take control by the unscrupulous, and ironically enough, 'new' ideas are not a 'new' phenomenon! Go to Comment
Barnaby's Cigarillos of opening
These short, thin pencil sized cigars, more akin to thin cigarettes, are thin enough to be inserted into most keyholes. Their dark ebony color and incredible strength and flexibility should be a give away as to their magical nature. However, this in itself is often rarely noted when one is casually lit in the streets. They are sold in a simple metal cigar case with a small latch and spring opening (more on that later...).
When lit, the cigars will vibrate madly. This makes for a particularly unpleasant smoking, jarring and shaking teeth and jaw, but the true purpose of these cigars is criminal in nature. By vibrating so strongly and noiselessly, they can and will unlock most common locks. In fact, better quality Barnaby's will vibrate through a very wide range of frequencies, sometimes hitting just the right note and shaking a lock apart. CLearly, to lockpick successfully, some sort of tension is needed on the tumbler, which is often provided by using the specially designed case spring, which can be used as a tension wrench.
As an aside, they are of mediocre quality in terms of flavor.
Bartholomew's cigars of fair trade
These rather thick and stubby cigars are always smoked after the signature of an important contract. Both parties will usually share the first few puffs and then, they will each in turn press the burning tip against their copies of the agreement. This should burn the paper, but doesn't. Instead, the burnmarks left are quite special.
In fact, the burn marks are utterly random, but when two marks are shown one on top of the other, they always form a distinctive pattern, which is unique to the cigar. This pattern is in fact printed on the silk band wrapped around each cigar, and is often given to an official to keep a record of the deal struck.
This allows a verifiable link between two contracts, making forgery of the contract impossible without access to the silk band and the two copies.
Otherwise, they make quite pleasant smoking indeed... Go to Comment
A really good random encounter or quest. Truckloads of potential for play!
Regarding the Coral, the island plants could concievably excrete a highly acidic substance (eg: every night, due to lack of sunlight, the trees respire normally and give of acidic co2) to dissolve the coral. This would then also mean that the animals and people wanting to stay here would have to sleep in the trees, otherwise their feet would be attacked by the acidity of the water. This in turn would also mean that every morning, every pond on the island would be filled with dead fishes (fishes would naturaly come to such an island every day, and only a handful, trapped in the roots and seaweed, would die during the secretion, the others swimming away), allowing the ecosystem to exist.
The weather and temperature would also have a significant effect on the island's size, shape and buyoancy, perhaps having some seriously weird effect in heavy seas...
(aside: in "The life of Pi" by Yann Martel, chapter 92, such an island is described quite vividly... ISBN:1 84195 392 x) Go to Comment
Although I probably wouldn't run this as a campaign (maybe a christmas special?) i think the idea is smashing and highly original, and it would be a lot of fun to play.
As Strolen, the book title and contents defining the abilities is a definite highlight.
title: magikal diskordance
title: On dragons, their ways, their culture.
title: The game of chance: How to ruthelessly bend the odds in your favour.
title: The love of a butterfly (dramatic love story)
title: The armory of the gods.
title: DnD Book of Vile Darkness
would the robots attack in defense of their store? or would a human pass unmolested? maybe simply usurping a robot to mmove some resources to a particular point for fast pickup would work? I love the idea, though. Go to Comment
This could be dangerous in a way. For example, a well connected person (node) could have a disproportionate effect on the politics. You can already see this with blogs today, where a widely read blog will be read by many, even an article wich spews utter rubbish, and will affect the opinions of many.
A well connected individual will easily throw the 'democratice process' off balance by expressing his opinion, which will cause a veritable cascade of change. The sheep mentality of many people only precipitates this effect. I suppose this is only a finger's width off collapse, where the most popular, rather than the best suited, are the leaders, with disastrous consequences. (then again, that might be a pretty accurate description of today) The ubiquity of the communication simply amplifies the existing effect.
Besides if a blog will influence you on foreign policy lets say, which one might effect you more.. the one from Henry Kissenger or the one from that political science student that is working at Starbucks?
You'd be surprised. Stupid people give their opinion all the time, and which is worse, are listened to. For example one of the US state TV channels gave the advice to 'unplug' your computer to prevent viruses(Time/state escape me) and it was probably no less than a poorly worded sentence, yet how many people do you think did it? This is why blogs are so volatile, the wax and wane with the throws and fashions of the day. As has been mentioned several times before, strolen's has been online for a decent number of years and it is already an exception to the rule. If suddenly the starbucks kid got a small audience (and was in fashion), it could very easily snowball into something huge. I suppose the entertainment industry works like this today (I wouldn't know), But would you like paris hilton to make decisions relating to your society? I can tell you that more people recognise her name than Kissenger's. Go to Comment
For a while I was mulling over some thoughts on a couple of planets I wanted to post, but when I came back, the nuimber of posts had easily quadrupled!!! Some of these are absolute gems, and will give rise to tons of in-game ideas, etc... Well worth an HoH. Thumbs up to everybody! Go to Comment
Thera's beautiful beaches and turquoise oceans have made this out-of-the-way world an idyllic destination for those in the known. Earth-like in term of weather and climate, it was first discovered by the Grey Corporation's exploration division.
The many archipelagos that dot the surface of the water world (indeed, there are no continental masses, simply island formed by tectonic activity) were originally bare, with no traces of organic life whatsoever. the weather being so mild, and so surprisingly accommodating for humans, The Grey Corporation immediately called upon the service of the Sun-MacGlasgi Terraformer clan to transform this planet into a tropical paradise. Soon enough, the island were teeming with a vibrant variety of life, and resorts were developed to accommodate the space elite.
Prized for its privacy by its customers (There is only one spaceport and the Grey company keeps transits under tight control). This planet has been making a neat profit for the Grey Corporation's coffers since tourism began.
Thera is in fact far more than would appear on the surface. Beneath the waves lie an incredible biodiversity. Roaming monster from the depth of humanity's nightmares glide alongside peaceful plankton feeders. Only a small proportion of life has ever been recorded, and every day, something new is found about Thera's oceans. Indeed, it seems that the planet's life never evolved out of the seas, having little land to evolve on.
In fact, the immensity and abyssal depth of Thera's oceans also hides more human secrets, for it is there that the Grey Corporation has its protected outpost. Leagues under the waves, no planetary bombardment would ever reach it, and the defense systems put in place against invasion are formidable, if completely unseen by any of the tourists. Go to Comment
When the Colonists of the system which later came to be known as 'Liberty' dropped out of hyperspace and arrived in-system, they were surprised by the orbit of two planets around the main star. Indeed, It soon became apparent that the two planets had exactly the same orbit (which happened to be surprisingly circular), and traveled through space on the same path, but on opposite sides of the star (Which later was dubbed Helios).
To this day scientists are still baffled as to how the two world came to be like this. The suspect that either an advanced civilization created them so, or that an ancient cosmic cataclysm forced one of them into this orbit. Either way, the colonists were faced with a strange choice, since both planets were practically identical, except that one had smaller oceans and a greater mineral concentration, while the other had more water, but was rather poor in minerals. So they decided to colonize both.
The water world, they named Sif, after the ancient goddess of the fields and of prosperity. The mineral world, the named Hephaestus, after the ancient god of the forge.
The system is divide so, with all manufacturing and heavy industry occurring on Hephaestus, while the people of the system (Helios's children) live on Sif.
Having used technology to automatically manage the robotic plants on Hephaestus, they were free to develop it as fully as they wanted, taking no precautions regarding human welfare and the environment. This has today led to Hephaestus being completely covered by automated industrial plants, the seas having soon been drained and the water diverted to cooling the many powerplants that provide the energy for this planet sized factory. The entire thing is controlled by orbit, from the large space stations that regulate the metallic arms of the robots below. Once a product is finished, it is led to one of the large spaceports on the planets, automatically sent into space to be recovered by the controllers. Biological life on this planet is rare, and the few lifeforms that exist and make a living amongst the machines are deformed ghosts of their former selves, mutated beyond recognitions into desperate and brutal monsters.
The materials are then sent through one of the two jumpgates, leading it either to Hephaestus's moon, where it is exported to the rest of the galaxy, or to sif, where it is used to build sif's society.
Free from industry, Sif has been able to concentrate on building a strong spirit of advancement amongst its people. Science, art and technology are very advanced here, and the crime rates are incredibly low. Pollution is virtually non-existent, and all waste is shipped back to Hephaestus through a ground based jumpgate. Large areas of land are dedicated to farming a wild diversity of food crop, and most of the population is vegetarian, complementing their diet with a great range of edible fishes from Sif's bountyful oceans. Engineers from the Sif technological institute all go and train on the Hephaestus control stations as part of their course, and provide the workforce needed to keep Hephaestus ticking over nicely.
The visual contrast between the two planets is stark, with an emerald and turquoise world sister to a darkened world, where sunlight barely penetrates the world-smog which envelops Hephaestus like the cold embrace of a death goddess. And yet, within these two opposite lies balance, and this system has lead to some of the greatest scientific and engineering achievement of recent years. Go to Comment
for a start. You could also have a look at the page hits on wikipedia between say, "Manchester united" and that for Buddhism, say) I suspect, perhaps wrongly that they would show greater hits for the football team. The google trend on is:
People are people. I suppose even in Victorian england this happened. The Royal's sex life probably made more people talk than the economy.
For a while, now, our technology has advanced far faster than our attitudes. Human reactions and psychology are for the broad strokes, what they were 200 years if not 2000 years ago. Unquestioning social cohesion is great when you're fighting the wolves, but when you're trying to build a global information society, some really big buttons have to be rewired. These people, if they could live in this effective meritocracy without dreadful abuse, would have a very alien frame of mind in comparison to humanity today.
I would love to talk in greater depth about this. Fascinating subject, really. Go to Comment
401 - With bare hands or bladed weapons while both combatants are under the influence of powerful hallucinogens.
402 - Anywhere on, in or above an airship. Bonus points if the ship uses hydrogen instead of helium. ("Up" did this very well.)
403 - Around a fireplace in the dead of the night, middle of the woods. While beset by wolves, of course.
404 - A Wuxia archer duel, where the combatants have a limited number of arrows to kill each other.
405 - Inside the zoo enclosure for chimpanzees
406 - Assassin duel in the middle of London, while avoiding surveillance cameras at all costs. (London has the greatest surveillance camera density of any city in the world)
407 - With both combatants fighting to the death while their hands are tied behind their backs. (In a holding cell, POW camp, etc...) So they'll have to bludgeon or bite each other to death. Go to Comment
The Chinese, when attacking a castle or fort, flew kites over the city wall and used the length of string it took to get it there as a measurement to know how far they had to dig a tunnel to get under the wall.