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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Mike Holmes on May 08, 2003, 12:09:57 PM

Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 08, 2003, 12:09:57 PM
The Chairman enters the arena once again. The light's come up. He's carrying a copy of Pendragon. What could it mean?

Iron Game Chef Contest!

I can wait no longer! We must know! Are there designers yet living who can accept the challenge to create a game in one week?!?!  Is there one of comparable talent to Iron Game Chef - Gamist, John Laviolette!

This episode's challenge! Create an entire Simulationist RPG  that incorporates three of the following four terms:
    • Volcano
    • Sphere
    • Song
    • Blood [/b][/list:u]
      Here are the rules:
    • Submissions to this contest must be made no later than 11:59 PM CDT on May 16th, 2003. If you're not sure when that is, post early. In fact you may want to post early so that you don't get messed up by server death as all are posted at the last minute (not to mention being in early can be a good tactic).
    • Post all submissions to this thread, and all work must be in the thread (though it can be in multiple posts). Graphics housed elsewhere and referred to in the code are excepted.
    • Any submission edited after the deadline will be disqulaified.
    • Submissions will be judged by myself on the following categories: Style, Estimated Effectiveness in Play, Creative and Effective Incorporation of the Above Terms, and Completeness.
    • The winner and runners up will be announced on or before May 20th, 2003.
    • RPG is defined intuitively. If you get too far from what may reasonably be constued an RPG you may be penalized! OTOH, you may get points for creativity. Do so at your own risk![/list:o]
      Direct any questions to myself, or this thread.

      Now, Iron Game Chef Gamist Challengers! Get Ready to create!


      See here ( for the last episode.
      Per the moderators: Mike Holmes is the only person that's allowed to do this (prevents these from proliferating impossibly). If you have an issue with this contact the moderators.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 08, 2003, 01:37:17 PM
    You just HAD to pick exam week, didn't you Mike!  The WORST week in the history of the world!  And I TOTALLY have a game concept that would work for this too!  ARGGHH!  7-FOLD VENGEANCE!  DO YOU HEAR!  SEVEN-FOLD!

    Seriously, bad timing.  Anybody who goes by the standard academic cycle is going to be out of commission this week.  I mean, I'll do a game later, even though I'll be disqualified, just because I'm that kind of person, but I was hoping to take down John.  Sigh.  Better luck next time...

    P.S. This is what you're missing:

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 08, 2003, 01:49:29 PM
    Quote from: Jonathan Walton
    Seriously, bad timing. Anybody who goes by the standard academic cycle is going to be out of commission this week.

    Ah, and here I was heaving a sigh of relief that he didn't do it last week.  Exam? What exam next Tuesday?  I finished my paper yesterday, so if the Muses are merciful, I'm in.

    Question:  there's no set way that the terms need to be incorporated into the game, right?  They don't have to be in the setting per se?  

    --Emily Care

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 08, 2003, 01:50:50 PM
    I should have realized that. My wife graduates this weekend (after only 17 short years of college).

    But that said, I'm sure every week of the year has some problem with it.

    Still, if I get more complaints than submissions in short order I may postpone. Let me know here if you're working on something, or need to wait.

    But for the moment we're still on. :-)


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 08, 2003, 01:55:43 PM
    Quote from: Emily Care

    Question:  there's no set way that the terms need to be incorporated into the game, right?  They don't have to be in the setting per se?  

    No set way. There may be better and worse ways, but it's up to the designer to figure that out.

    BTW, all synonyms are allowed as well.

    These are both questions that were asked more or less in the last contest. A review of that thread may give insights.

    Glad to hear you're in, Em. May the Muses be with you, indeed.

    See what I mean, Jonathan?


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jason Lee on May 08, 2003, 03:15:32 PM
    I was gonna try my hand too, but I'm closing on a house I'm moving next week.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: bluegargantua on May 08, 2003, 03:41:41 PM
    Quote from: Emily Care

    I finished my paper yesterday, so if the Muses are merciful, I'm in.

      Hmmm....these are, as I recall, individual efforts.  Which is too bad -- it'd be fun to collaborate with you.  Ah well, that means that this weekend, amidst the other fun and games....


    Bring It!

    p.s. first thought on reading the list of ingredients is Blood Music by Greg Bear.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 08, 2003, 04:47:24 PM
    Quote from: Mike Holmes
    See what I mean, Jonathan?

    Yeah, yeah, no sympathy for the weak, I get it :)

    But if I fail classes because I get obsessed with writing Argonauts instead, it's coming out of your hide Mr. Holmes...

    Bonus Coolness Points for using all 4!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: talysman on May 08, 2003, 10:32:12 PM
    ok, I'll through my hat in the ring.

    because one thing about all these competions/challenges I've found is: they spur me into action. I like that. when I have no deadline, I just keep twiddling things and it's much hard to complete the final product.

    I was aiming to make this game less philosophical than Co9C and the (unnamed) Nag Hammadi/gnostic game, but so far the ideas I've come up with are leaning the same direction. oh well!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: C. Edwards on May 09, 2003, 12:47:47 AM
    *walks in wearing nothing but a grass skirt and drinking a Corona*

    I'm going to throw my coconuts into this competition also.

    Prepare thyselves for the coming of the  Tiki God

    *chugs his beer and paddles out to catch a wave*


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: dragongrace on May 09, 2003, 02:57:20 AM
    Drains blood, sings songs, dances in circles aruond the great KaluaHua("Who ha?").....  Nah, too obvious, But I'm in.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 09, 2003, 04:00:14 AM
    It appears that I'm in as well, despite the fact that Simulationism doesn't exist.

    - J

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Shreyas Sampat on May 09, 2003, 04:37:16 AM
    Yeah, I guess I'm in as well.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 09, 2003, 05:34:39 AM
    The Chairman looks at the culinary rules masters arrayed for battle.

    Quote from: Chairman
    Oh, indeed this bodes to be a battle of colossi. We have the Iron Chef Gamist himself returning to the arena. And it looks like the runner-up may compete as well, perhaps to his own detriment! The artful Chris Edwards has decided to join the fray, shouting a Creative Agenda as a challenge to all! Tom honors the competition with his bellowed taunt! The newcomer Joe enters subtly, bringing an unknown challenge. Shreyas Sampat, the man of myth, sneaks in almost unnoticed.

    And, what is this? The iconoclast, Memento-Mori himself, master of the gaming ginsu? Can it be? He will be attempting to win a competition that he does not believe exists? His zen ways are astonishing to all! Surely this will cause the mortal participants to tremble!

    Who else will try their hand at challenging these maestros of gaming goodness? And who in the end will be - Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Matt Machell on May 09, 2003, 05:59:13 AM
    I'm in. Since I have much freetime at the moment...


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ethan_greer on May 09, 2003, 06:21:54 AM
    Yeah, alright.  Sign me up.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 09, 2003, 06:31:23 AM
    Quote from: Chairman
    Two more worthy contestants! But when will the cooking begin?!? Already half a day is gone! Surely we should have some hints by now of what's to come!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Shreyas Sampat on May 09, 2003, 06:44:07 AM
    Let the cookery begin.
    Quote from: Te Anau
    My people are starving, and the island is angry.  The fish are schooling outside Tuamotu, where we cannot hunt them - they rot before we can bring them to shore.  We must have new lands, new foods, new gods.  We must have WAR.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: dragongrace on May 09, 2003, 06:50:36 AM
    My ingredients are coming in by the truckload, the emporer shall surely enjoy this appetizer to a sumptuous feast.

    An Introduction

    "Welcome the the Celestial Institue of the Mentally Ill.  Here at the Institute we find compassionate ways to cure the sick, the disturbed, the ill, and the depressed.  At times extreme measures are necessary to restrain some of our more unruly guests, but the utmost care is taken in maintaining good health and proper hygiene.  I'm sorry to hear that your relative must stay a time with us, but rest assured that they will be returned to you much like you remember them before this terrible illness infested them.  Feel free to check back often to found out how they are progressing in their recovery."

    The cinder block walls were painted white at one time, but the stains along them have all but eliminated the purity they once held.  The stains, the stains, are messages, but what do they say, and more importantly what are the stains of.

    You room has a matress in a metal frame, padded walls and a concrete floor.  There is a hole in the floor for your bathroom, there is a hole in the door. (Scratched in the wood are the words "feedin' time".)

    "This is your room, make yourself comfortable, You'll meet everyone in the morning."


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ethan_greer on May 09, 2003, 07:15:19 AM
    So it's hints you want, judge-san?  Sure, I'll throw you all a bone:

    Prepare your palates, all, for a culinary masterpiece, entitled...

    Blood Songs of the Volcanic Sphere

    Do I get bonus points for having all four words in the title of the game?

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 09, 2003, 07:24:43 AM
    Quote from: ethan_greer
    Do I get bonus points for having all four words in the title of the game?

    From Jonathan, yes. From me...maybe...we'll see if they make any sense in the context of the actual game. If it turns out to be a game about growing turnips, for example, then no.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 09, 2003, 07:26:45 AM
    I did the majority of mine last night. It's called "Tooth & Claw."


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 09, 2003, 07:55:38 AM
    Quote from: what Homer never
    Way, way back... back before the world took on it's present spherical shape, back when the world was really flat... there were heroes.  Not the kind that wear spandex and capes, of course, but real heroes, those blessed with the blood of Gods flowing in their veins.  Looking up at volcanic Olympus, they could not help but reach for the greatness that their divine parents and protectors demanded of them.  They could not help but do great deeds.

    So when Jason put out the call, they responded.  Coming from every corner of the ancient world, they responded to the song of summons, joining together in a brotherhood that would be fabled throughout history.  Not even the Trojan War, many years later, could rival the throng of heroes assembled aboard Jason's ship.  They were unstoppable, relentless, and unmatched in their desire for women and good eatings.  They were... the Argonauts.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: greyorm on May 09, 2003, 09:17:19 AM
    Damn you, Mike Holmes! {hrm...that's starting to become my catch-phrase} I'm in, though I should be concentrating on Orx. Ah well, this might help the creative writing juices flow even more.

    Here's the ingredients:
    Ancient gods
    Songs of power
    Rites of blood

    Think of the Finnish mythoi, where singing is magic, toss in some bloody Aztec rituals and all sorts of blood=power myths, divine patronage and ancient bloodlines, and top it off as a dish best served as Setting Exploration.

    Will there be a volcano? Heck, who knows!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 09, 2003, 09:44:13 AM
    Quote from: The chairman
    Two provocativly tasty teasers, and one new contestant who damns my name but enters the competition with fire! This is shaping up to be quite the fight! But, as last time, who will follow through, and who will burn up in the kitchen?

    We shall see!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 09, 2003, 09:51:00 AM
    Ok after brooding like a sour puss for sometime I decided I needed to come back and do this... I am in...

    Edit: Songs of Distant Spheres


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 09, 2003, 10:33:31 AM

    Quote from: Every Age Gets The Heros It Deserves

    We were not alone.  They came from out of our Nightmares to conquer - to dominate.  We engineered out triumph - but at what cost.  The Children of Vulcan's Forge drove back the invaders and in the process laid waste to our planet.  We fought against our saviors - fearful of their power - and they were driven back.  We were driven underground - patiently waiting for the Ultimate Winter to end.

    A thousand generations later, and the remnants of humanity are just clawing out of the rubble and building a new civilization upon the hardscrabble ruins of the old.  We are not alone...

    Vulcan's Forge - A Post Apocolyptic Game of Dark Heroism.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 09, 2003, 10:50:40 AM
    Quote from: The chairman
    Two more entrants! One quiet and sullen, and the other with the boldest statement yet! The bar is set high already for this comeptition's gaming dishes both in terms of number of competing game chefs and the quality of the dishes being prepared!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Valamir on May 09, 2003, 11:44:33 AM
    Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
    I did the majority of mine last night. It's called "Tooth & Claw."


    Well its about freaking time...

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 09, 2003, 01:21:27 PM
    You better watch it Jason-san.  Two can play that game!

    How would you like a draft of my character sheet?  We keep it on tap, just for chefs like you!  Ya!

    (Exams?  What exams?  This is more fun!)

    Yes, that's right.  Ponder the ramifications of this...  Ponder a group-wide character sheet... Ponder the possibility for 1-on-1 play... Ponder traits that represent individual characters...  Ponder the Sphere of the Journey and episodic/microfic play...  And, worst of all, ponder what's going to go in that big empty box...  Bwa ha ha...

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 09, 2003, 01:48:40 PM
    Quote from: Vulcan's Forge Splat Book Intro Fiction

    Trace scanned the Void horizon, watching the interplay of rising heat and swirling dust devils off in the distance.  He reached back and upped the cooling intake on his piece-meal Estivator.  The misfit compos-plates dug into his ribs and his shoulders.  Course he knew that without the suit, he’d be dead.

    Nobody braved daytime on the High Void.  Trace knew that out there somewhere, just past the borders of the Void in the direction he was facing, sat the Newmerica Archology - A city-state teeming with thousands of BloodDrones mindlessly serving their Masters.  He knew that none of the BloodDrones, or their Masters, or even the nefarious RipGangs that roamed Newmerica’s seamier streets would dare cross the Void.
    Trance did, though.  He and his buddies – Slammerkin, Voiders, Nomads, they did.  Hoss Jake said they were just like the desert Nomads from Africa in the Before.  Trace always wanted to ask Hoss Jake where Africa was – thinking it must be on the other side of Newmerica.  Further than he’d ever gone.
    Trace and most of his Tribe of Slammerkin hadn’t set foot off the Void in all their lives – except for the raids, course.  Hoss Jake was different.  Different than the other Slammerkin Hosses, for sure.  He’d been around a lot – traveled the wide world to hear him tell it.
    Hoss Jake said that he used to command a company of EarthForce Impacters – a company of SoloArmored Zero-G Marines in the Before.  Course Trace didn’t believe him.  The Before was a loooong time ago, maybe years before Trace himself was born.
    Hoss Jake said the EarthForce Cruiser he’d been on was knocked out of orbit before the crew had come out of CryoSleep.  Said that his Cruiser had returned to Earth after a tour of duty out near the outer-rim only to be met by a rouge squad of Pale Knights – Vulcans – who’d hijacked a shuttle out of Ramstein Orbital Space Port.
    Hoss Jake sure did use a lot of funny words.  Trace wanted to know, for instance, what a Cruiser or a Shuttle were – and why it was important for Hoss Jake to say that his EarthForce Impacters were Zero-G.  Trace could spell – he knew there weren’t any “g’s” in there.  Course, he knew what Vulcans were.  He personally thought the Pales was the worst – cause they could trespass in your soul and cast everything that was you aside.
    Sloppy Joe always told him the Wyld were worse, cause they’d walk through a barrage of Bolter fire and open you up stem to stern with a humming MonoBlade.  Trace wasn’t sure.  He thought he’d rather be cut, hung, dried and eaten by a Wild than trespassed by a Pale.  He didn’t much like the idea of killing his other Slammerkin – we’ll exceptin’ maybe Sloppy Joe - and he'd heard the Pale could make you do that.
    Anyway, Hoss Jake said that when his Cruiser Re-Entered, it automatically jettisoned the CryoSleep chambers – already built into the Escape Pods.  They landed hard, he said, digging into the hardscrabble ground out here in the Void – and said thanks to the miracle of Nuclear Power Praise God – lived for a long time in CryoSleep.
    Trace knew that Sloppy Joe could sleep for sixteen hours a day sometimes, especially when he was coming down of the Psycholodrine.  But Trace thought about and realized Hoss Jake must’ve been asleep for a long time.  Like since years before Trace was born.
    Trace and Sloppy Joe had found the Escape Pods in a cavern below their Oasis.  Most BloodDrones and Masters and RipGangs didn’t know that there was any life out on the Void.  They all thought that the Slammerkin lived only on human flesh raided from outlying settlements.  Which wasn’t strictly speaking true, cause they’d prefer to eat roaches when they could find enough to make a stew.
    Anyway, Trace and Sloppy Joe had been down in the caverns filling canteens, when Sloppy Joe decided to go exploring.  They’d gotten lost, and stumbled on these strange metallic cylinders.  They felt hot to the touch, sort of, and they’d managed to get their fingers stuck to 'em.  Hoss Jake said later that the cylinders were Frozen Cold – whatever that was.
    They were dripping water, for sure.  And they had Before Comps attached to them – with blinking lights and buttons and everything.  Sloppy Joe had started pressing buttons.  Trace couldn’t get him to stop cause Joe was way hyped up on ‘Drine.
    First one cylinder opened, then another, then another.  Guys flopped out of them screaming.  One guy exploded from something that Hoss Jake called de-compression trauma.
    It took Sloppy Joe thirteen tries to get it right.  Lucky for us, thought Trace, that he’d figured it out in time to release Hoss Jake alive and relatively unharmed.
    Hoss Jake had gone kinda crazy for the first few days – talking about thousands of years having passed and what had happened in the Before.  Course, we didn’t know, thought Trace.
    Hoss Jake had killed the Tribe’s old Hoss – Bran.  Killed him bare handed.  JiujutsuKungFuFighting was what Hoss Jake called it.  Took Bran’s Bolter right out of his hand and broke his arm too.
    They’d adopted Hoss Jake in the middle of the fight when he bit Bran’s ear off and smiled, blood trailing down his chin.  He’d spit the ear out, which had just made Bran mad.  Course, flatliner that he was, Bran walked right into a nice bit of KarateChopAction and Hoss Jake had said later that he’d broken the bridge of Bran’s nose.
    All Trace could remember was the way Bran’s eyes had rolled into the back of his head and how Bran had just been stopped dead in his tracks, and how he’d stood there on his feet wobbling back and forth gurgling blood out his nose and mouth - shaking like a nervous willow in Dust Funnel.  He’d never seen anything so cool before.
    Hoss Jake had taken care of them after that.  Taught them SmallUnitTactics – like how to set up an ambush.  Course the Slammerkin knew that you always tried to Bolt the other guy in the back when he wasn’t looking – but man Hoss Jake had taught them how to be able to do that every time they got in a fight.
    He’d never seen Hoss Jake scared – until yesterday.  They’d ridden up north a few miles out of the Void to Hope – a small village that they’d not raided for a year or more.  Hoss Jake said he’d heard they just got a new detachment of Newmerica’s Finest – which meant more Psychlodrine.  The Tribe needed more – they were almost out.
    Things had gotten a little ugly – cause Hoss Jake had let his Slammerkin go a little wild.  They’d…done things to that room full of little girls and boys who’re going to school – whatever that was.
    That one little girl, Suzie, had freaked Hoss Jake out though.  She’d said that her uncle was gonna find us and gut us.  That didn’t bother Hoss Jake much, tell she told him how her uncle had once filleted a whole RipGang once back in the Archology where she used to live.  Killed them good and dead, the last one hitting the blacktop before the fastest of them could even clear his Bolter from its holster.
    Hoss Jake had seen something in the little girls eyes as she told this story.  Trace remembered that the rest of them were laughing at the little girl, but how Hoss Jake had gotten all spooky quiet and had eyed the little girl.
    She’d said that her uncle wasn’t really her uncle, just some guy that liked her mommy a lot.  But that he’d got all kinds of stuff tattooed on his face and how he was as big as a house, meaner than a cat on ‘Drine and twice as fast.  She’d said how he’d sort of glow when he killed those RipGangers, singing this really haunting song.  She’d tried to whistle it for us.  Hoss Jake had blown her cute little head off right then and there – and he’d turned white as a ghost.
    “We gotta get back the Void boys.  Gather up all the ‘Drine you can find and mount up.  We ride at sundown!”
    Sloppy Joe was pissed.  Course he didn’t do nor say nothin because he knew Hoss Jake didn’t like Insubordination, no SIR!  Pissed cause Hoss Jake had promised them they could clean and cure the kids and bring ‘em back for the food stores.
    They’d ridden all night, and then when they got back to their Oasis on the Void, Hoss Jake had told them that the little girl’s uncle was a Vulcan.  Probably a Pale – and maybe he had friends.  Hoss Jake had told them that in the Before, they’d always traveled in 3’s – one of each.  A Pale, a Brood and a Wyld.  Hoss Jake said he’d only ever seen the Knights, but that he knew that at least in the Before that others had been made.
    He told them to set up an ambush, and to set a round-the-clock watch.  Sloppy Joe had groaned, and Hoss Jake had knocked him cold with one punch, broken his nose and two of Sloppy’s four remaining teeth.
    Trace and Leo and Vance had broken out the Estivators.  Course Trace was the smallest of the three, and didn’t feel like fighting over one of the more complete suits, which was why he was starting to feel a little hot under the collar and to itch a little all over.  He didn’t have enough water in him to sweat.
    He was scanning the Void, and he saw this man walking toward the Oasis, holding his hat brim down to keep the wind out of his eyes.  Trace couldn’t believe it.  Nobody walked the Void.  Maybe the guy’s mount had died out there in the Void, thought Trace.
    The guy was walking casual, not like the Void’s heat was bothering him at all.  Trace felt a little sweat trickle down his forehead.  He rubbed his eyes and reached back to check the controls of his Estivator.  Thought maybe the damn thing was fried and he was having a Void Vision.
    He looked up and the guy was a lot closer now.  Trace slid the safety back on his bolter and eyed the man.  He was wearing all black leather – got to be a Void Vision – with silver buckles and a bunch of knives and bolters strapped all over his body underneath the wool poncho that was billowing in the wind.  Trace saw the hilt of a sword poking out over this apparition’s left shoulder, and recognized the designs.  It was a MonoBlade.  Trace had seen one once near the outskirts of Newmerica in the portable stores of a group of wandering MallWalkers.
    Still the guy kept his hat brim down over his eyes.  Trace could see his mouth and the stubble on his chin.  The guy was saying something – Trace could barely hear it – which come to think of it is pretty amazing given the wind and the distance…
    And the guy just sort of flew – no jumped – up – all the way up the cliff face – thirty or forty feet above Trace.  He had to strain his neck to follow the guy’s arc.  Which was stupid because he’d looked nearly right into the Sun and was seeing spots when the guy landed…singing these really haunting words.
    Trace felt like he was moving through quicksand – his reflexes faster than his brain though – as he brought up his Bolter.  He heard the whistle-whine of the MonoBlade cutting through the air and didn’t feel a damn thing as it sliced his arm right off at the shoulder.
    He looked down at the gory stump squirting blood out all over the rocks, and wondered how the guy had seen him in his Estivator, with the ChameleonCloak turned on.
    He turned to look up into his killer’s face, and saw the half-moon tattooing that covered the man’s eyes.  A Vulcan, thought Trace, as the MonoBlade cut clean through his neck.  Funny how he still had a few stray thoughts left, like how he wanted to see if this guy could take Hoss Jake and maybe he’d be their new Hoss – and how he wished he could figure out how to sing like that…

    We who are about to design, salute you!



    P.S.  Johnathan - Clever use of negative space - but your design is all greek to me.  Stay out of the kitchen if you find Vulcan's Forge too hot...


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 09, 2003, 02:06:46 PM

    My dearest Devan,

    If only I could show you the sun rising over the horizon of the Earth, my love.  You might reconsider your decision--but I won't begin that again.  They are treating me very well.  Everyone told me about the disorientation you feel when you're first around them, but I couldn't understand it. Until I met my first Sxosian in the flesh.  Maybe it's the smell...

    And I wish I could share with you how different everything looks and feels now.  Yes, I have the new blood already.  I know I said I would wait until I had a chance to get an assignment, and see if I could establish a new life on Sxosia or may rrRexan.  But--I just don't have the words to describe it.  You've heard their Song on the vids, but it's like meeting the Sxosians in person--in, um, Being. The Song called to me from the moment I arrived on the Moon, perhaps before.  Remember how I told you about that summer I spent on the beach? When the whales came in? The music they made under water has haunted me since I was six.  And I heard some of what called to me then, in their Song.  I think that's why I'm here....

    Song of the blood moon.  Discover the new universe confronting humanity after it's near extinction and, perhaps, final salvation.  

    A gmful simulationist roleplaying game encouraging world creation,  through the participants spheres of influence.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 09, 2003, 06:10:40 PM
    Vulcan's Forge Has One Too...


    Heroes: Take a Walk on the Wyld Side


    *Looks around*  I'm the only one still in the kitchen?  Whatdaya mean the deadline isn't until next Friday?




    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Shreyas Sampat on May 09, 2003, 06:34:40 PM
    *steps out of the refrigerator room*
    No, Jason-san, we're all still cooking.

    It's just that we put dividers up in Kitchen Stadium, to keep those crazy actor judges guessing.  Remember, the best seasoning is surprise.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 09, 2003, 06:55:48 PM
    Shreyas Sampat-san:

    True.  But whetting their appetite can be an effective strategy too, no?  And surprise isn't just about concealment - it can be about misdirection as well.



    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: C. Edwards on May 09, 2003, 07:10:15 PM
    *Cuts up a lime while his bikini clad assistant rubs suntan oil on his shoulders*


    What's it all about man?

    Not only are you an all around cool Dude but you're also a trouble-shooter for your Tribe. When you're not Chugging, Grooving, Hanging-Ten, or chasing the islands seemingly endless supply of Virgins you're helping your Tribe iron out life's little kinks. Life on the island has gotten hotter than usual because Pele, goddess of the mighty volcano, is not well pleased with your people. Only by uniting the Tribe behind one righteous Dude can you gain Pele's notice and convince her to mellow out this most heinous situation. There's only one real problem. Your contemporaries, those other Dudes in the Tribe, are trying to unite the Tribe themselves. So get stoked and grab a tastey brew because battling these bogus posers is bound to make you thirsty. The winner becomes the Tiki God and keeps the volcano's wrath from putting a real downer on the permanent beach party you call 'life'.

    *Disclaimer: The designer is not responsible for injury or property damage incurred as a result of play.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: talysman on May 09, 2003, 11:22:07 PM
    < John adds a pinch of spices from s container labeled "Volcano and Spheres" to a simmering pot of Setting. he then adds some secret ingredients to a pan of vegetables, mushrooms, and Resource mechanics sauteed in Blood. >

    as usual, I think I'll be somewhat tight-lipped about my planned "dish". especially since I may make some setting modifications before the time is up. I've been watching several hours of "Beavis and Butt-head" videos, though, and I have to say: when Beavis started shouting "I'm bleeding!" I was briefly tempted to create a different RPG entirely... heh.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Ron Edwards on May 10, 2003, 03:21:27 PM
    All right, you wickerbuckin' finnicks ...

    That's enough pictures, K? Use links.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 11, 2003, 09:34:26 AM
    A sampling of Gear ( - delectibile with just the right hint of causal consistency seasoning.  MMM-MMM.



    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Bankuei on May 11, 2003, 10:01:05 AM
    This here needs some polish, but I think this is all the work I'm really going to put into it :P

    Inspired by Hero Wars and FFX:

    Songs of the Dead

    God created the first men upon the earth.  None know whether the earth was made by God, or if God came upon it later, but all men know God’s song breathed life into the world.  

    For a time, God lived with man, and the world was good.  

    But some men choose not to sing God’s song, so Death came into the world.  To seal the hole Death had made in the world, God became a stone large enough to cover the hole.  And God said before turning to stone, “I sleep now, so you must sing to me of the dead, so I may recognize my children and take them to me.  If you do not, they shall wander lost.  This you must do on the eve of the new year.”

    And so man lived around the Godstone, praying and singing once a year so their ancestors would not be lost and walk this earth, neither dead nor living.  But without God’s song, discord came to man, and men quickly realized one night was not enough for all to sing of their dead.  

    And so, blood was split, and once a year, the bloodlines gather to do battle, hoping to sing their ancestors to God, before they rise again and strike at their kin in anger.

    The World

    Songs of the Dead is a world of mythology and mysticism, where science gets tossed out the door and things just work that way because “they do”.  In this world, men fight to have control of area of the Godstone to sing praises of their bloodline and send their ancestors peacefully to the afterlife.  

    In this world, song is magic.  Without the song to send them along, the dead become impatient, restless, and sometimes rise in anger.   And yes, they rise again even if you burn the body to ashes...somehow, someway, a rotting corpse crawls forth from the underworld and seeks its kin, venting anger and rage from this life and the afterlife.

    Needless to say, not having this happen is a big motivator for the clans and bloodlines of this world.

    Basic resolution:

    Take D20’s equal to your trait, roll them all, keep the highest.  You get to reroll and add again if you get a 10 or a 20.  So if you roll a 10, you reroll that die, and add that on top of the 10, allowing you to get above 20.

    The GM rolls D20’s equal to the difficulty(or opposing character’s trait) and keeps the highest, rerolling as above.

    GM Difficulty Dice

    1  Easy/Rountine
    2  Tough      
    3  Very Hard
    4  Near Impossible
    5  Should be Impossible
    6  Unfathomable

    Highest wins.  Subtract higher from lower for your Action Total.

    1-5 Failed
    6-10 Bare success, but at a cost(loser chooses)
    11-15 Solid success
    16-20 Great success, with a extra nice thing attached
    21-30 Beyond human, think tall tale type stuff
    31-40 Legendary, Hercules, etc.
    41-50 Mythic, push over a mountain, etc.


    Since Songs of the Dead revolves around clans, each clan has a history and a name.  Each clan also gets its own set of stats, which are measured by points.

    Resources- this is land, food, wealth, and people.  When resources are 0, the clan is destroyed, perhaps with a few scattered survivors.  

    Unity- This is the strength of bonds and loyalty within the clan.  When it hits 0, the clan splits into 2 or more factions.  One way to look at it is that will divide into 1 faction per 10 Resources.

    Ancestors- This is how “pleased” the ancestors are with the clan as a whole.  When Ancestors hits 0, there is a major uprising of Risen, and the clan is attacked.

    Sphere- this is the ideal or physical thing around which the clan centers itself.  This could be an idea, such as “Bravery” or “Justice” or a physical place or thing, like “Holy Mountain” or “The Kingsword”.  This isn’t scored, but rather provides focus for the Clan.  If the clan ever divides, one or more factions will need a new Sphere.

    In general, scores for the Clans range from 10-50.  A poor Clan has probably about 50 points to spread, a moderate Clan has 80, and a well off Clan has 100 or more.


    All characters in Songs of the Dead are clan warriors, dedicated towards protecting their bloodline from raiders, other clans, and the Risen Dead.  Some are warriors through and through, others are masters of the Song, and others still lead men and keep the clan tight.


    Blood- This is your willpower and leadership ability.  It is how strong the bloodline shows up in you.
    Song- This is all things magical and spiritual.  It is your connection wth the Godsong.
    Sword-This is all things physical. It is the strength of your ancestors in your arms and legs.

    All traits are measured from 1 to 5 dice.  You start with 6 dice to split between them all.  


    Heart is a measure of dedication and pushing oneself beyond our limits.  Characters start with 3 Heart.  

    Heart can be used in two ways.  It can be temporarily spent, in order to reroll all of your dice, at any time.  It will restore at the beginning of a new session.  It can be permanently spent in order to raise your Traits.  It costs as many Heart points as the level to which you are raising a Trait.


    Each clansman is able to sing 3 Songs(you pick), along with their Bloodsong.  There is no “stacking” songs, either by the same person or by another person.  The first one takes effect and holds until it wears off.  There is no limit to how many times you can perform a song, aside from the stacking rule above.  So if you used Discord on one enemy clan, you could go to another Clan and use it again, no problem.

    Here is a list of what they are and what they do.

    Everybody knows their family’s Bloodsong.  It allows them to send their ancestors to the afterlife.  This song must be sung at the Godstone on the eve of the new year to send the ancestors along.  The degree of success determines how many ancestors get sent.  A bare success sends only a handful, while a Mythic success sends ancestors from hundreds of years back all the way up to now.  Add the action total to your Clan’s Ancestor score.

    This song gives good crops and abundance to the community.  This song can be performed once a month to ensure good food for your clan.  It must be performed over the crop fields.  Divide your action total by 5(round down) and add  the result to your Clan’s resources.

    This song is the opposite of Growth, you use it to strike down the other clan’s crops.  It must be performed on their crop fields once a month.  Divide your action total by 5(round down) and subtract the result from their Clan’s resources.

    This song increases the Unity of your Clan. Must be performed in the middle of your village or town.  Divide the action total by 5, add to Unity.  It can be performed once a month.

    Opposite of Serenity, used on enemy clans.  It must be performed in the middle of their village or town.  Divide action total by 5, subtract from their Unity. It can be performed once a month.

    Used in battle to aid your warriors.  Can be performed once per battle.  Divide your action total by 5, add the result to all action totals on your side for the entire battle.

    Opposite of Bravery, used on enemies in battle. Can be performed once per battle.  Divide action total by 5, subtract the result from all action totals on your opponent’s side.

    Used as a mass healing song to heal warriors, plague victims, etc.  Can be performed once per day.  Divide action total by 5, add that many Life points to all people it is being performed on.  They must be within eyesight of the performer.

    This song can sooth the Risen and calm them from their anger.  It can be performed once a scene with the Risen.  Divide action total by 5 and that’s how many weeks they stay calm.  This must be performed within earshot of the Risen.

    This song reminds the dead ancestors of your enemy of their suffering.  This song may be performed once a month, and must be sung over your enemy’s graveyard.  Divide the action total by 5 and subtract that from their Ancestor score...

    Life and Death

    Every player character has 10 Life Points per Die of Blood they have.  Instead of representing raw physical damage, consider Life Points the will to live.  When you hit 0, you are dead.


    The Bloodlines are always in violence, ranging from small personal rivalries to the entire clans at war.  The rules for combat are similar to the basic resolution, with a couple of extra strategic things added on.

    Declare actions-
    Everybody decides what they’re trying to do.  Everybody can do a combat action and a non-combat action per turn.  A combat action is trying to hurt somebody or not get hurt and a non-combat aciton can be anything else, like rallying troops, kicking over a gate, spilling a barrel of oil, singing the Bravery Song, etc.   The GM can give an extra die to anyone who has a good description or some other advantage.

    Roll those dice-
    Everybody rolls Sword dice and highest action total goes first, and then down the line.  Resolve in that order.  If anyone wants to do a reroll with Heart, they need to declare it at this time.

    In a normal fight the assumption is that your goal is to hurt your opponent and not get hurt in the process.  Do not reroll those “initiative” dice you just rolled, they’re used for your action as well.  The highest roller is assumed to have dominated that round of combat and hurt the other guy without getting hurt.  Subtract higher from lower and what remains is the damage done to the loser.  Some weapons add more damage, armor will subtract it.  Taa-daa! Easy, right?

    Non-combat actions-
    These things happen during the player’s turn.  Roll dice to resolve them at this point, although the players’ initiative is still based off of their combat score.

    You can give Sword dice to another person if you are working in conjunction with them, like double teaming an opponent, or throwing an axe in their back.


    For large scale battles, choose one person as the leader.  This roll will be committed after every 5 rounds of combat.  They roll Blood vs. Blood of the opposing leader.  Highest wins. The winner may choose to do one of the following based on the nature of the battle.

    -Lower the Unity of the opposing clan(lower morale)
    Divide the action total by 5, and subtract from the opposing clan’s Unity.

    -Lower the Resources of the opposing clan(killing men, destroying area)
    Divide the action total by 5 and subtract from the opposing clan’s Resources.

    -Take Resources from the opposing clan and add to your own(Raiding)
    Divide the action total by 10 and subtract from the opposing clan’s resources and add  it to your own.

    The Tools of Slaughter

    Weapons do damage ranging from +1 to +5, with +1 being a bitty knife and +5 being a grossly oversized maul or sword.  Armor ranges from +1 to +5, with +1 being some leather stuff and +5 being something “state of the art” like scale mail with reinforced folds put in.  If you want to know what the average warrior in a clan has, divide the Resources of the clan by 5, and that’s how many +’s they get between armor and weapons.  So a Clan with Resources of 25 has their warriors equipped with a total of +5 stuff, probably +3 for a good sword and +2 for some form of boiled leather.

    Gaining Heart-

    Your character gains Heart(permanent points) for the following:

    Harming an opposing clan through Song/Battle +1
    Aiding your clan through Song/Battle +1
    Fighting the Risen +1
    Sending your Ancestors with the Bloodsong: Your action total divided by 5(this reward is given to anyone in the clan who fought to make it happen).
    An excellent example of roleplaying, living up to, or defending your Clan’s sphere +1

    Beasties and Nifties

    This world is an amazing one, full of weird things, both natural and supernatural...

    The Risen
    The Risen seek out their kin in anger for failing to send them to God.  The Risen have Sword ratings equal to when they were alive.  In battle, they are disorganized, and difficulty should be determined solely by their numbers.

    Big nasty things that like to eat people.  They get Sword ratings of 3 to 7 depending on size and general badassocity.

    Big wicked dogs, literally from the underworld.  They can smell the Risen and eat them.  They also eat living folks too!.  Sword ratings are usually in the 4-5 range.

    Underworld Snakes
    Giant snakes that sometimes pop out when lots of Risen climb up.  They are huge, can swallow people whole, and have corrosive poison.  They generally suck.  Sword ratings are always 6.

    The Weird
    Faerie like spirits, of nature and such.  The Weird have their own sets of laws and rules, and get upset when other people unknowingly break them(by doing stuff like crossing a “forbidden” river, etc.).   They don’t fight people head on, they usually just show up later, pronounce some serious ass curse, and screw the person or the Clan really bad.  They can perform a Song by speaking or singing a short couplet and verse and know all Songs. They usually also give a means of getting out of the curse(“Bring me the cup that never empties”) and sometimes take bets(oh, yeah, don’t lose).  If you somehow manage to do something they really like they can also bless you or your bloodline real good too.  They have a Song rating of 9.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Simon W on May 11, 2003, 11:25:03 AM
    Bankuei said:

    But some men choose not to sing God’s song, so Death came into the world. To seal the hole Death had made in the world, God became a stone large enough to cover the hole. And God said before turning to stone, “I sleep now, so you must sing to me of the dead, so I may recognize my children and take them to me. If you do not, they shall wander lost. This you must do on the eve of the new year.”

    And so man lived around the Godstone, praying and singing once a year so their ancestors would not be lost and walk this earth, neither dead nor living. But without God’s song, discord came to man, and men quickly realized one night was not enough for all to sing of their dead.

    Presumably this refers to Volcano? It's not clear, but then I've got the remains of a bottle of wine in front of me!

    Anyhow, I like it, little though it is, the writing evokes some of the feel of the place. Difficult to see where it is a 'sim' though as the rules don't appear to be that 'real'. More of a mood/setting piece to me, but nowt wrong with that!


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Bankuei on May 11, 2003, 11:35:26 AM
    Hi Gideon,

    Since Mike said pick three, I went with the Blood, Song, Sphere combo, although Sphere is kinda kludged in there.  No matter.  I was inspired, I wrote it this morning, and I think it has a little merit to make it worth posting.

    As far as the Sim factor, remember- Sim doesn't have to be "realism", you can Sim B-movies, you can Sim werewolves and vampires, you can Sim anything.  There's some elements of Gamism in there, cause you have the bloodlines fighting, and there's room for Nar Drift if you want to take it there, but other than that, it's pretty Simmy.  You're this warrior, you fight for your people.  Your success, failure and actions have an effect on your clan.

    As far as the Godstone idea, it simply came from the fact that I used to live in Washington State, and found out that Mt. Rainer was known as Tacoma, "the Mountain that is God", which I thought was cool.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Simon W on May 11, 2003, 12:04:04 PM
    Well, I reckon Volcano can squeeze in there too! Extra kudos to you!

    I was thinking of having a go, but all my ideas have evaporated, looking at this lot.

    Never know, I might come up with something but it may be a bit lame compared with what I have already seen.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 11, 2003, 12:50:13 PM
    Vulcan's Forge General Introduction and Basic Rules Mechanics:



    Vulcan’s Forge is a roleplaying game set in our distant future.  The world has been reshaped by two devastating wars – the first fought by Humanity against an invading alien race bent on enslaving us all – the second against the bio-engineered soldiers we created to fight for us.

    The game is designed for two or more players – ideally 3 or 4.  Each player will create a single character – a Vulcan in the vernacular of the game – except for one player.  One person playing the game will take on the role of Game Master.

    The Game Master’s job is to provide the setting and background – and to facilitate play and adjudicate the rules.  As such, the Game Master’s interpretations of the rules during play should be considered correct.  Should any player disagree with a GM’s ruling, they are encouraged to discuss the ruling after the game session has ended.

    The players are generally responsible for creating the story, mostly through the Drives they choose for their Vulcan character.  The players also get to control their character’s action up to a point.  Whenever a player whishes his character to attempt a difficult or opposed task, the game requires that dice be employed to judge the outcome.

    Just as in life, there are random elements that effect the outcomes of a character’s action.  These random elements are represented by the dice.  This means that characters can potentially fail.  Players are encouraged to know their character’s limits, and accept their failures with grace when they happen.

    Game Masters should refrain from fudging dice rolls or outcomes – either in favor of the characters or any non-player characters created by the Game Master.

    Overall, Vulcan’s Forge is designed to be an episodic game about dark heroism.  The point of the game is to explore the limits of what constitutes heroism against a backdrop at once familiar and uniquely colored through the lens of a near extinction level apocalypse.

    The game strives for the feel of spaghetti westerns combined with gritty Anime and elements of science fantasy.  Sort of High Plains Drifter meets Trigun meets Kung-Fu feel.  The heroes wander into town at the beginning of the episode, form attachments to some group of relatively innocent locals, the Menace threatens, kills, or somehow attacks/violates the innocents, and the heroes are forced to act in order to stop/punish the Menace.

    Players characters (the Vulcans) will typically be far superior in ability to the vast majority of non-player characters they meet.  This imbalance of power is an intentional design element of the game.  Game Masters are encouraged to challenge the players through a combination of using teams of human NPC’s, Vulcans gone bad, and Fallen remnants.

    The players’ characters have taken on the role of humanity’s protectors.  They are the US Marshals, bounty hunters and vigilantes of the near barren wasteland that was once our Earth.  They roam the land, seeking out people to protect and Fallen remnants to destroy.  Ultimately, every episode of Vulcan’s Forge will likely end in some type of conflict as the players’ characters confront the major villain and either foil his evil scheme or wreck vengeance upon him for his crimes.

    With that in mind, the game probably doesn’t support long term campaigns very well, unless the players are constantly in the mood for over the top, gratuitous violence and double doses of conflict and combat.


    The players and game master will need to discuss each upcoming episode prior to playing through it.  The players should have the opportunity to select new Drives for their player character, and the Game Master should try and knit the Drives of each PC into a coherent story.

    The Game Master needn’t come prepared with a specific plot in mind – and in fact shouldn’t do so.  Instead, the Game Master should develop a conflict map that arises out of the PC’s drives.  Such a map should state what the episodes conflict is going to be about, who the major factions and personalities involved in the conflict are, what settings and locations are involved in the conflict, and what the stakes are for the conflict.

    The GM should write up the major and minor NPC’s prior to play, as well as bringing a list of names that he can call upon when inventing extras (minor NPC’s) on the spot.  As the PC’s explore the situation at hand (this episode’s conflict) and the locales and settings involved, the Game Master should introduce the major factions and NPC’s at appropriate moments.

    Determining the appropriate moment is left largely up to the interpretation of the Game Master.  However, the GM should never let the action waver, and should thus not marry himself to any given scene or location where a given NPC can interact with the PC’s.


    The Game Master should provide the general setup for each episode up-front.  Then each player should be given a few minutes to narrate how their character initially became aware of the conflict, or how they came to be in the locale where the conflict is going to be played out.

    As the players explore the locales involved in the episode’s conflict, they will undoubtedly decide that they want their characters to attempt certain actions.  Figuring out how well the players’ characters can accomplish any desired action is what the rules are designed to adjudicate.

    Players can have their characters attempt three different types of actions:

    Auto Actions are actions that anybody can reasonably do as long as no other character is opposing them.  Things like walking, talking, eating, riding, and running are all auto actions.

    Stressful Actions are actions that would be difficult even under ideal circumstances.  These are the types of actions that could result in very bad consequences for the character if they fail.  Typically, these types of actions are only taken under duress.  In times of relative calm, when the character has sufficient in-game time – these actions can in effect become auto actions.  Things like jumping across a wide-alley from rooftop to rooftop or attempting to stunt ride a mount or trying to scale a sheer cliff wall without the proper time or tools are all stressful actions.

    Opposed Actions are any actions that a character attempts that are opposed on some level by another player character or (more likely) non-player character.  The classic roleplaying example is combat, when one character is attempting to bash in another character’s head.  Usually the target of such head-bashing is actively resisting.

    Anytime a player declares a stressful or opposed action for their character, dice and the character’s capabilities are used to determine the outcome.


    Vulcan’s Forge uses 10-sided dice for conflict resolution.  Each player (including the Game Master) will need approximately 20 dice, 10 each of two distinctive designs.  At the beginning of each session, each player should designate which die design they will use to generate Action Values and which dice they will use to generate Resistance Values.

    It would be helpful if everyone could use the same die design for Action dice and for Resistance dice – but barring the purchasing of a lot of new dice this may not be possible.

    Anytime a player declares that they want their character to attempt an action, the Game Master needs to decide if the action is an auto-action, a stressful action or an opposed action.

    In the case of auto-actions, the player should be allowed to narrate how their character goes about accomplishing the task set before them.  With either stressful or opposed actions, the dice will need to be used.

    All characters involved in a Vulcan’s Forge story (be they player character or non-player characters) are defined within the game by several elements: Spheres of Influence, Traits, Skills, Gear, Songs, and Drives.
    Spheres of Influence are rated on a scale from 1 to 10.  The rating for each sphere (blood, mind and soul) represents the characters potential power, energy, or effort within that sphere.  The Blood Sphere is for physical actions, the Mind Sphere is for mental actions, and the Soul Sphere is for emotional or social actions.  Each Sphere has a permanent and a temporary rating.  The permanent rating represents the limit or cap on the amount of power a character can store for use within the given sphere.  The temporary rating will fluctuate up and down during the course of the game depending on the results of the character’s actions and actions taken against him by other characters.  For any given action, the player may roll as many 10-sided dice as their characters current temporary rating for the appropriate sphere.

    Traits are in-born talent, luck or ability over a wide swath of actions within a given sphere.  Each sphere as three different types of traits, and each character will have at least one trait from each type within each sphere.  Like spheres, traits are rated numerically from 1 to 10.  Blood sphere traits are Strength, Dexterity and Toughness.  Mind sphere traits are Will, Perception and Acuity.  Soul sphere traits are Conviction, Manipulation, and Leadership.  A single applicable trait can be added to the action value and the resistance value for a given action.  Note that the traits used for action and resistance for a given action needn’t be the same ones.
    Skills represent a character’s training and experience with a fairly broad set of related activities.  Like spheres and traits, each skill a character has is rated between 1 and 10.  Whenever a character attempts an action, they must possess a relevant skill or they are very likely to fail.  The skill rating sets the target number for dice.  Any rolled dice must come up equal to or less than the skill rating being used in order to count toward the final action and/or resistance value.  Note that one skill covers both action and resistance values for a given action.

    Gear is the tools, equipment, weapons and the like that characters possess.  They are rated in terms of their Value Add – which is added to either the action value or the resistance value as appropriate.  Character can use only one tool each for action and resistance during a given action.
    Songs represent special abilities that each character can perform – on the order of magic or super powers.  They affect action resolution in fairly complex ways, and are dealt with in their own chapter and in the characters chapter of the rules.

    Drives are the attachments that Vulcans make to personalities, communities or ideals within the game.  Drives are rated from 1 to 5, and anytime a character attempts an action related to one of their drives, they may roll an number of extra dice equal to the given drive’s rating.  Only one such drive may be invoked and used for any given action, and all such uses must be approved by the Game Master.   

    Whenever a stressful action is attempted, the Game Master will need to set a difficulty number between 1 (very easy), 10 (nearly improbable), and 20 (impossible).  The Game Master then rolls a number of dice equal to the difficult number.  Every die that comes up under the difficult number is added up, and then finally added to the difficult number to arrive at the challenge value (analogous to the resistance value for opposed actions) of the action.

    The player attempting a stressful action rolls a number of dice equal to their character’s current temporary Sphere rating – for the appropriate sphere (blood sphere for physical actions, mind sphere for mental actions, soul sphere for social/emotional actions).  The player than adds up the values of all the dice whose rolled value is less than or equal to one of their character’s skills.  The Game Master has the final say as to whether or not a given skill applies to a given action.  This rolled value is then added to the value of a relevant trait and a relevant piece of gear (again relevant is up to the GM).  This total is the characters total Action Value.

    Assuming that the characters Action Value equals or exceeds the rolled Challenge value, the character succeeds at performing the action.  Determining how well they succeeded requires using Table One of Two.

    Figuring out the number of Success Levels an action achieves requires finding the row on Table One of Two ( that corresponds to the actions’ resistance (in the case of opposed actions) or challenge (in the case of stressful actions) value.  Once that’s done, simply scan across the row until the column whose value for that row is closest to, but less than or equal to the action value.  In other words, find the column where the next column to the right on the given row is greater than the action value.  Then find the column heading value.  That value is the number of successes achieved.
    EXAMPLE: A player wants his character to jump down from a three story roof-top without hurting himself.  The game master assesses a difficulty number of 7.  The GM rolls 7 dice, getting 10,9,8,7,7,6,6 on the dice.  He adds up all the dice that are equal to or below the difficulty number of 7, getting a total of 26.  He adds this total to the difficulty number of 7 for a final challenge value of 33.

    The player’s character is attempting a physical actions, and has a current temporary blood sphere rating of 9, and is using their character’s Lithe blood trait (with a rating of 8), gravity slowing boots (with a rating of 5), and their acrobatics skill (rated at 9).  The player rolls 9 dice, getting 10,10,9,9,8,8,8,7,3.  The total of the dice whose value is equal to or less than the character’s acrobatics skill of 9 is 52.  Added to their character’s Lithe trait value of 8 and his gravity boots rating of 5 this is an action value of 65.

    The Game Master finds the row that corresponds to the challenge value of 33, and scans along the row looking at the values in each column.  The second column has the number 65, which is exactly equal to the action value generated by the player.  Since the value of the next column is above 65, the GM looks up the column heading for the second column – a 2.  He then announces that the character achieved 2 successes – which is a good success level.

    When a player wants their character to attempt an action opposed by another character (typically a non-player character), the dice are used a little differently.  In the first place, the Game Master doesn’t set a difficulty number.  Instead, all parties involved in the action get to roll a number of dice equal to the relevant sphere plus bonus dice.

    Vulcans get to add the rating of one of their drives to any roll involving that drive as bonus dice to any action.  Additionally, an action that a player describes in a cool, evocative way is deserving of between 1 and 5 bonus dice at the GM’s discretion.  Using the scenery in the action description is worth 1 bonus die, while getting a ‘wow, that’s cool’ reaction from the majority of the players is worth 5 bonus dice.
    Each player who has a character involved in an opposed action must split their dice pool between their action dice and their resistance dice.  Any action dice thrown that come up equal to or less than the character’s relevant skill are counted toward the total action value.  Any resistance dice that come up equal to or less than the character’s relevant skill are added to the resistance value.

    Each player can then add a different trait and/or tool to come up with their final action value and resistance value for the action.  The character of the player who threw the most action dice is considered to have gone first.  This character’s action is resolved against the resistance value of the defending character first.  Each success level on this attack reduces the number of dice the opponent gets to add to their action value – starting with the highest usable die.  If all of the opponents dice are removed in this fashion, their action fails.  Any success levels left over after all of the opponents action dice have been canceled out are lost.

    If the opponent has any usable action dice left, their action value is then resolved against the first character’s resistance value.

    Each success level causes a wound to the receiving character.  Each wound represents a loss of effective power to act within the sphere being contested.  Each success level lowers the temporary rating of the used Sphere by 1.  If a character looses all of their Sphere rating to wounds, they are incapacitated.  At that point, the victor gets to choose whether or not the vanquished opponent lives or dies.



    Title: An Early Look....
    Post by: bluegargantua on May 11, 2003, 07:44:01 PM

    High Concept Simulation:  The Last Days of Pompeii meets Groundhog Day, with just a splash of Quantum Leap.

    Premise:  The players are all members of a Roman family living in Pompeii who get caught when Vesuvius explodes.  They all expire in a dreadful deluge of hot ash.  But they suddenly wake up - on the morning of their last day of existence.  Every day they get another chance to live their life and every night they die under the volcano's fury and every morning they wake up to do it all over again.  One day to try and change what they can and escape from the doomed city.  But even if they make it to one of the boats and out to sea, they still wake up the next morning with Vesuvius looming over their heads.

    Incorporated Elements:

    Volcano - Duh.
    Blood - All PCs are related to one another
    Spheres - Magical Crystal Spheres give the PCs greater control and range over their time-jumping abilities and can even pass this power on to another person.  These spheres can also provide other magical benefits to PCs, such as additional or enhanced skills and capacity.  If there's anyway out of this endless loop, it'll probably be found in these spheres.
    Song - Every person's soul has a song, their ultimate contribution to the universe, their reason for being.  It may be large or small, loud or soft, beautiful or ugly, but everyone has one.  If the PCs can coax that song out of a person, they can retrieve another Crystal Sphere.  

    System Mechanics:

    Character Creation:  Characters are created almost entirely through the medium of play.  The core test and nature of the game will help players build characters that will be capable and motivated to work together while still maintaining a range of choice.  Players will have Physical and Mental Capacity and this will determine how many Physical/Mental skills they can choose.  Skills are pretty open-ended and may be created by Players on the fly.  Guidelines for players and GMs will be incorporated to keep the silly and obnoxious out.  Personality/Relationship traits can/should be noted but are otherwise undefined - these are beyond simple quantification and are the responsibility of the player to portray.

    Task Resolution:  Karma.  Players will be rated on a Level-Rank system.  The Ranks are color-based and run Red-Green-Blue (Highest to Lowest).  A Red Level Character is better than the average human, Green Level is average, and Blue Level is below average.  There are a couple of other levels for super- or sub-human levels.  Within each Level, you have a numerical Rank from 1 to 10 (Lowest to Highest).  When you enter a contest against another player, you compare Level first.  The higher Level automatically wins the contest.  If Levels are tied, you then compare Ranks.  The higher Rank wins the contest, but then Rankings are swapped.  If you have Red-5 and I have Green-10, I lose.  If you have Blue-10 and I have Blue-5, I lose, but we swap rankings so now I have Blue-10 and you have Blue-5.  In generic challenges against "The World", the GM assigns the Level and Rank depending on how difficult they think it will be.

    Character Reward:  Through the setting it is possible to learn any new skill and raise it to a high Level of mastery - you just devote a large number of days to practicing and learning the skill.  The Crystal Spheres will be a potent resource and are the primary reward system.  


    Aside from competing in the Iron Gamer competition, there are a number of points that I'm hoping this game will address.  Most of these were inspired from reading (and re-reading) Ron Edward's essay on Simulationism.  

    1.)   Character Creation as Play - This is going to be hammered home.  Character generation will be a pretty fast and furious affair and will swiftly move into the very first session (the PCs first "Last Day").  From there, character development will build up a bit over several sessions as PCs work through the impact and ramifications of their new existence.
    2.)   Power Gamer Kill - Go ahead, treat all of Pompeii like a giant dungeon.  Kill everyone, loot everything, kill off your fellow PCs.  The game not only assumes this will happen but encourages it in the early stages of play.  Go ahead Lucy, eat all that candy, but the very next morning, everything resets to zero.  There's nothing to "win".  They Crystal Spheres will excite some interest, but once attuned to a PC they can't be stolen for long (they "reset" with the PC every morning).  Without the co-operation of the group, it'll be very hard to harvest any more of them.  The situation helps guard against "Gamer Creep".  That said, very strategic gamers may find the subtleties of unraveling a Soul Song to be very engrossing and rewarding.
    3.)   Time and Space - Fairly critical factors for this game.  How much you can do in 12-24 hours in a city on the brink of destruction is a big question.  You can only get about 30 miles away (at most) and the city can be tricky to navigate, especially in the evening as the volcano erupts and doom descends.  Luckily PCs have an endless number of chances to "get it right", so timing issues in a scene framing sense are likely to go pretty well.
    4.)   Creating the Gamespace - Exploring and mapping the "Spacetime" of Pompeii will become a vital activity and PCs will be responsible for making a lot of that happen.  Need money?  You'll soon know the location of every stash of coins from here to the city walls.  A person's Song is to win the love of a beautiful courtesan?  You better know when and where those two people are at all times.  
    5.)   The Hard Question - Addressed straight on.  How much fun is it to live out the same day over and over again?  How much fun is it to simulate a repetitive situation and setting?  How much fun is it to explore your setting down to the point where you know the movements of every stray dog?  If the situation has no obvious exit, how long before you get cabin fever?  Can your characters transcend the situation or will players inject meta-game concerns to do so?


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 12, 2003, 06:04:23 AM
    Quote from: The Chairman
    There is tremendous energy in the Game Kitchen Arena so far. The contestants are certainly doing their best to make the judging difficult. With such voluminous dishes of such greatly palatable flavor how can one sort out the best? But in the end there can be only one winner. And there is yet much to come. Many entres are being kept warming in the oven, presumably until later in the competition. So we may yet see even more wonderous achievments of gaming cuisine!

    The suspense mounts!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Simon W on May 12, 2003, 11:50:02 AM

    SuperCity Sun


    Dr Blood, who readers may remember was defeated several months ago by The Golden Sphere, has only last night escaped from the maximum security wing of the City Gaol, where he was awaiting sentencing. It appears that he had outside help in his escape and Callum Wainwright, the Chief of Police, believes that his accomplice was the notorious Red Volcano, who you will remember was involved in the Six Million Dollar City Bank raid of only a few years ago.  Our reporter spoke to the Superheroine Phoenix Song, who arrived at the scene just seconds too late. In an exclusive statement to The Sun, she said that she would do everything within her power to bring to justice both Dr Blood and Red Volcano, before they start to wreak havoc together upon our fair city.

    Nothing very original about this traditional-looking superhero RPG...or is there?


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 12, 2003, 01:09:29 PM
    Song of the blood moon.

    2051: a sizable meteorite strikes the earth.  Plague begins spreading, centered on the point of impact in the US Midwest. The disease attacks the blood, changing it so that the very cells of the body rejected. The bodies of the dead seem..different somehow.  The disease is spread by contact and mortality is 100%.  Panic reigns.  

    Hysteria increases as bodies of the dead start disappearing, and rumours of aliens start circulating.  Then the victims start to vanish.  Movement is spotted on the moon.  A desperate counter-offensive is launched at the Strangers occupying our satellite.  The attempt is foiled, and the crews captured.  They are sequestered by the hideous aliens, and barraged with images and sounds.  These hideous recordings and images begin being broadcast on earth--the population below waits in terror for the end.  

    Then, one woman held on the moon, listening to the noise-sound of her captors, begins hearing something...a melody? Like the songbirds of her youth. Sense rises from the chaos, and she begins to understand.  She watches their actions and realizes that what  had first appeared to be butchery and desecration is research.  

    The aliens are trying to heal the disease.

    Title: Songs of Distant Spheres
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 13, 2003, 03:41:28 AM
    Songs of Distant Spheres

    Long ago mankind left behind the world of its creation and reached out into the dark unknown.  As we grew in knowledge our understanding of the Universe became much more clear and thus, much more dangerous.
    It is to Mankind’s Eternal lament that he can never take a step back once he has glimpsed the edge…

    One thousand years ago one woman, Hannah Zutachi, glimpsed the edge and plunged herself and Mankind headlong into Armageddon. Exploring ancient ruins near the center of our galaxy, Zutachi discovered a new branch of Physics related to Harmonics and Dark Matter.  By creating the proper Frequency inside a dark matter “sphere” she was able to harness enormous energies.  Her first experiment opened a Great Rift to another dimension but Zutachi did not live long enough to enjoy it.  For from this rift, having manipulated Zutachi came the Malganorn.  

    Malganorn are giant (3m tall) alien creatures with a vast intellect and bodies that can thrive in any environment.  They manipulate Dark Matter and other energies by “Singing” the proper resonance for time, space, distance, and effect.  

    We learned quickly that they consume or corrupt all life.

    Over a century passed as everything we could throw at them was destroyed.  No weapon was powerful enough and only a handful of the Malganorn were killed before Tenizen showed us the way...

    <to be continued>


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: greyorm on May 13, 2003, 07:37:52 AM
    Unfortunately, I need to drop out of the competition. I wasn't thinking about it last week, but it's graduation week for my wife, the relatives are coming to stay, and she has all those fun last-minute things to finish before the semester is over. I simply don't have the quality of time to devote to creating and writing up a whole new game.

    Good luck to all the other contestants!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Shreyas Sampat on May 13, 2003, 09:12:43 AM
    Sorry to hear that.

    Actually, I'm also have to respectfully withdraw, but I'll be posting my game in about two weeks, when I get back from a trip that I didn't know about until a couple of days ago.

    To all my fellow chefs, may your knives stay sharp.

    Here's another teaser, though:
    Quote from: King Te Anau
    Our numbers are lessened, and the mountain still grumbles deep in the earth.  Our sacrifices have not pleased it.
    I must go and tame the mountain.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ethan_greer on May 13, 2003, 09:55:41 AM
    So.  Can one designer enter multiple games?

    P.S. I'm serious.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 13, 2003, 10:49:01 AM
    Quote from: ethan_greer
    So.  Can one designer enter multiple games?

    Yes. They will each be judged separately, however.


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Simon W on May 13, 2003, 04:59:53 PM

    SuperCity Sun


    Dr Blood, who readers may remember was defeated several months ago by The Golden Sphere, has only last night escaped from the maximum security wing of the City Gaol, where he was awaiting sentencing. It appears that he had outside help in his escape and Callum Wainwright, the Chief of Police, believes that his accomplice was the notorious Red Volcano, who you will remember was involved in the Six Million Dollar City Bank raid of only a few years ago.  Our reporter spoke to the Superheroine Phoenix Song, who arrived at the scene just seconds too late. In an exclusive statement to The Sun, she said that she would do everything within her power to bring to justice both Dr Blood and Red Volcano, before they start to wreak havoc together upon our fair city.


    SuperCity is an unashamedly spandex-clad superhero role-playing game(rpg). There are lots of superhero games out there and this game is inspired by many or all of them. However it does differ from all the others in a major way. This is that it is designed for large groups of players – 10 to 12 or more and at least 2 GMs, where normal rpg’s are moderated by 1 GM and about 3 to 6 players.

    The players are split into 2 teams – the Superheroes and the Supervillains. The Supervillains are fighting for control of SuperCity and the Superheroes are trying to protect the populace and defeat the Supervillains. One GM is in place for each team and to liase with each other to determine whether any members of the teams meet up and so on, much like in other rpg’s.

    Starting Off

    The GM’s need to determine a few details between them about SuperCity, draw up a rough, stylised map having a copy each, including some or all of these key locations (and others as required): -

    ·   The City Hall
    ·   The City Museum
    ·   The Sports Stadium
    ·   The City Hospital
    ·   The Nuclear Plant
    ·   The City Bank
    ·   The Shopping Mall
    ·   The Water Treatment Works
    ·   The City Airport
    ·   The City Police Department and Gaol.
    ·   The Government Scientific Research Facility
    ·   City Armory
    ·   Residential Areas
    ·   City Park
    ·   The Warehouses
    ·   The Slums

    It would be helpful if they came up with a few key figures too, for example

    ·   The City Mayor
    ·   The Police Chief
    ·   A Major Celebrity
    ·   The ‘Normal’ (non-super)  Crime Boss

    It is also a good idea to make up a bunch of Superheroes and Supervillains (examples at the end of these rules) and even make a HeroMachine picture for each character for players to choose from. Once these details are decided, it moves on to the players.

    Each player needs to decide whether to play a Superhero or a Supervillain. It is best if there are equal numbers to each team. The teams then go to separate areas (preferably separate rooms) with their respective GM and make their plans.

    The Supervillains have to bring SuperCity to its knees. The way they do this is largely up to them, but they need to subjugate the people – there may be other ways to do this, but one way, might for example, be to replace the Mayor with one of their own (Dr Blood naturally believes it should be him and why stop there? Today SuperCity, tomorrow the Nation and then The World!).

    They may need some followers – maybe plebs from the Slums to help them fight off the Police Force and other annoying ‘normals’ who just get in the way of a Supervillains job of taking the city. Capturing some of those annoying super heroes would be great too – the Supervillains could find out how they tick. But again, they are just something to be dealt with along the way to the main task of ruling the city and making slaves of the people.

    The super-heroes must try to thwart them. It would be great to find the Supervillains den if they can – it has to be located in the city somewhere. But they must be found and brought to justice. The best way to do this initially is to plan patrols around Supercity, so that they cover as many locations as possible in their move.

    The Game

    Each team needs a base in SuperCity. It can be in any of the locations. Simply decide where it is, detail any defences and how it is accessed and tell your GM.

    Each move is played out in turns. Characters start in their base.

    Travel from one location to the next takes 1 turn.

    ·   Those with ‘Super Speed’ can move through one additional location per level of the power.
    ·   Those with Flight can fly one extra location per level of the power - passing through the locations on the way.
    ·   Those with Teleport can go anywhere but do not pass through the other locations.

    So Golden Sphere with his tertiary power of flight can fly through up to two locations in his go. Air Raid with Primary Flight and Tertiary Super Speed can pass through 5 locations in his go.  

    To search a location takes 1 turn. This is needed to find the enemy base. (A Monumental Task reducing by one level per turn spent searching).

    At the end of the players moves, the GM’s get together and compare their maps and the moves the teams made, to see whether any paths crossed. Paths will definitely cross when team members end in the same location. If they simply passed through the same location then those with Super Senses definitely spot the others. Those without Super Senses need to roll under Mind on a dice.

    E.g. Red Volcano decides to travel with his buddy Air Raid towards the sports stadium, where they know the baseball star Trent Barron will be playing. Both can fly, but Red Volcano is slower – so if they want to stay together they can move only 2 locations. Phoenix Song and the Privateer are running towards the bank. They can travel only one location – funnily enough, the location that Red Volcano and Air Raid passed through. They have not ended their turn in the same location, so spotting is not automatic. Privateer has Super Senses, so he has spotted the other two flying overhead. They only spot him on a successful roll (which they fail). Privateer and Phoenix Song can either let them go, or fire at/attack Red Volcano and Air Raid.    

    The System Rules

    Each character is either a Superhero or a Supervillain.

    Each character has 3 attributes. These are: -

    Body      Represents strength, physique, muscle, toughness and constitution.

    Action      Represents reflexes, deftness, speed, dexterity, agility and movement.

    Mind      Represents intellect, will, memory, reasoning and determination.

    Each character has 6 points divided between these attributes. Each has a minimum of 1, which is human normal. Each point in the attribute represents the number of dice to roll when performing activities.

    Each character also has powers - a primary power, a secondary power and a tertiary power. Each also has a weakness (or no tertiary power). Some of these super powers may be extensions of or additions to the basic attributes.

    Using Powers

    Opposed Rolls

    These normally come from aggressive acts against another character, such as in combat. The players both roll dice and the highest wins. The resultant total scored above that of the other player determines the level of the success.

    To use a Primary Power, you roll 4 dice. To use a Secondary Power you roll 3 dice. To use a Tertiary Power, you roll 2 Dice. To use Attributes, you roll as many dice as your character has in that attribute.

    The combat is broken down into ‘rounds’ of a few seconds in length. The dice to roll depends on what each character is doing.

    Action determines which character gets to attack first. Rounds are counted down from 4 (the highest) to 1 (the lowest). Whoever has an Action on the called round can then attack (if they have any means of attack left). If two or more characters have the same Action, they all roll dice to see who gets to attack first.

    In a round a character can attack once. However, he can defend as many times as he can, by using powers and attributes. Each power or attribute can only be used once in a round though. Dodging using Action can only be done once. A character can defend against multiple attacks until he has run out of means to defend or chooses not to defend.

    The means to defend against attacks can be powers or Action (dodging). Many of the powers can be used to defend against attack.

    Physical Powers

    Hand-to-Hand, Power Blasts, Fire Attacks, Frost Blasts etc – these are all physical attacks. They can be defended by similar powers – a fireball could be defended against using an ice-shield for example. Or you could simply shoot a power blast down with a laser beam. Or you could fly out of the way. Any reasonable sounding method of avoidance can be used.

    Any attack that gets through and has a positive value will reduce the characters Body by 1. Anyone losing a point of Body loses their attack for that round, if they have not already attacked. They can still defend though. A character reduced to 0 Body is knocked out.

    Mental Powers

    Mind Attacks, Mental Blasts, Domination etc – these are mental attacks. They can be defended by any of the mental powers or by Mind alone. If it is simply a mental ‘blast’ then the effects become physical. If it is a more dominating attack – Mind Control for example, then the result determines how under control the character is and how long it will last, if not severed.

    Any attack that gets through and has a positive value will reduce the characters Mind by 1. A character reduced to 0 Mind is either knocked out or susceptible to the attackers control/mental power.

    KO’d characters can recover if woken by colleagues (one totally uninterrupted round).

    Physical Attack Powers       
    Diamond Darts      
    Electrical Powers      
    Fire Powers      
    Gravity Powers      
    Ice Powers                                   
    Magnetic Powers   
    Power Blast      
    Weather Control      
    Combined Attack                      
    Strength + Body

    Physical Defence Powers
    Electrical Powers
    Fire Powers
    Gravity Powers
    Ice Powers   
    Magnetic Powers
    Power Blast
    Super Senses
    Weather Control

    Combined Defence
    Acrobatics + Action
    Mental Attack Powers
    Emotion Control
    Mental Blast

    Mental Defence Powers
    Mental Shield**
    Emotion Control
    Super Senses                      
    Mental Blast

    *Cause no damage, but do ensnare.
    ** Can be used to defend more than once, if of Primary or Secondary power.

    Example of combat

    Privateer and Phoenix Song decide to attack Red Volcano and air Raid. They attract their attention (Privateer is too cocky not to shout at them first) and Action dictates the order of play. Air Raid and Privateer both have Action 3. They roll and Privateer ends up with the highest and decides to fire his Power Blast Gun at Red Volcano.  He rolls 2 dice and they come up 7. Red Volcano gets to defend. He decides to rely on his Stone Powers and so rips a piece of wall from a nearby building, which is used to block the shot. He gets to roll 3 dice for a Secondary Power and gets 16 – blocking the shot.
    Then Air Raid gets to have a go and Power Blasts The Privateer, for three dice coming up 9.  Privateer uses his Super Senses to avoid the shot (he could have used Acrobatics or Action to get out of the way or even Body to absorb the shot) and gets 10 on his 3 dice, just moving in the nick of time.
    Phoenix Song uses her Sonic Powers to attack Red Volcano and as her Primary Power gets to roll 4 dice, getting 13. Red Volcano has already used his Stone Powers this round. He must either use his best attack (Fire Powers) or try to fly out of the way or dodge, using Action. In neither case will he be able to beat the roll Phoenix Song made, so he decides to try to absorb the shot, using his Body Attribute. He rolls 3 dice and gets 12 – not enough! He suffers a  point of Body damage and loses his attack for that round.


    Each character has a weakness. This is unknown to the other team (at least initially). In most cases this is a weakness to a particular form of attack. If attacked by something for which they have a weakness they use 2 dice less to defend against the attack.

    So, in the example above, if Phoenix Song had attacked Air Raid with her Sonic Power, Air Raid would have tried to  Fly out of the way – normally 4 dice for him, but reduced to only 2 dice because he has a weakness against this form of attack.

    Unopposed Rolls

    These are rolls where there is not an opponent, but the challenge is determined by other factors – such as how difficult it would be due to conditions such as adverse weather, the need for speed etc.

    Again the player simply rolls dice for what he is doing – using Power Blast to knock down brick wall for example. The player rolls dice in a bid to exceed the number in the table belo, depending on the GM-assessed difficulty.

    So, Golden Sphere is trying to knock a hole in a brick wall.  The brick wall for example could be 3 feet thick and the GM has determined each foot is one level of difficulty. This makes the wall hard to blast down so Golden Sphere needs a 15 or higher. He rolls 4 dice for his Laser/Light Power and gets 16 – he has basted a hole through the wall.

    Difficulty   Number to exceed
    Straightforward   5
    Moderate   10
    Hard   15
    Daunting   20
    Formidable   25
    Monumental   30

    The Cast List - stats in this order

    Name   B   A   M   Primary   Secondary   Tertiary   Weakness

    Golden Sphere   2   2   2   Laser/Light Powers   Force Field   Flight   Stone Powers
    Phoenix Song   1   2   3   Sonic Powers   Regeneration   Mental Shield   Ice Powers
    Challenger    2   2   2   Mental Blast   Armour    Acrobatics   Mental Blast
    Shadow Knight   3   2   1   Armour   Illusions   Teleport    Domination
    The Privateer   2   3   1   Acrobatics    Super Senses   Power Blast Gun    Cocky
    Lady Luck   1   2   3   Lucky   Emotion Control   Flight   Power Blast
    Laserburn   2   3   1   Speed   Laser/Light powers   Flight    Darkness
    Golden Wing   2   2   2   Flight   Gravity Powers   Acrobatics   Magnetic Powers
    The Moth   1   4   1   Super Senses   Sonic Powers   Moth Form   Heat/Flame
    Bulldog   3   1   2   Strength   Super Senses   Mental Shield    Devitalization
    Attractor   2   1   3   Magnetic Powers   Armour    Mental Blast   Diamond
    Firefox   2   3   1   Flame Powers   Flight   Acrobatics   Absorb Heat
    Dr Blood   2   1   3   Devitalization   Teleport   Regeneration   Megalomaniac
    Red Volcano   3   1   2   Fire Powers   Stone Powers   Flight   Magnetic Powers
    Doppleganger   1   4   1   Copy Powers   Shape Shift   None   None
    Air Raid   2   3   1   Flight   Power Blast   Speed   Sonic Powers
    Frost Storm   2   2   2   Ice Powers   Absorb Heat   Regeneration   Power Blast
    Dr Necros   1   1   4   Darkness   Domination   Mental Blast   Megalomaniac
    Dracos   3   2   1   Flame Powers    Flight    Armour   Water
    The Brute   4   1   1   Strength   Armour    Size Change (larger)   Emotion Control
    Wraith   2   2   2   Non-Corporealness   Devitalization   Invisibility   Light/Laser
    Lady Diamond   2   2   2   Reflection   Diamond Darts    Armour   Illusions
    Repellor   2   1   3   Magnetic Powers    Armour   Power Blast   Mental Blast
    The Eel   1   3   2   Electrical Powers    Regeneration    Water Breathing   Gravity Powers


    ·   Armour can be used to defend more than once against physical attacks, but each subsequent time it is as if one lower level.
    ·   Mental Shield can be used to defend more than once against mental attacks, but each time at one lower level.
    ·   Super Senses can be used defensively, to notice incoming attacks sooner and react to them.
    ·   Super Senses is the only defence that can be used against either physical or mental attacks.
    ·   Shapeshift means Doppleganger can shift his attributes around as he wishes.
    ·   Copy powers means that Doppleganger can see a power being used and copy it for as long as he wants to use it. He can only use one power at a time in this way.
    ·   Reflection can reflect energy powers back at the user, meaning they then have to defend against their own power.
    ·   Regeneration means the character can recover if KO’d, at one point per round per level of power.
    ·   Strength can be used to add to Body rolls in hand to hand.
    ·   Acrobatics can add to Action to defend.

    Okay, its not complete. I need to add some more about how to handle which team wins and which team loses, maybe mundane weapons and how to handle 'normal' npcs and so on. However, I'm going away for a couple of days soon, so I needed to get this out of my hair first!


    Title: happy birthday to me!
    Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 13, 2003, 08:09:26 PM
    Greetings All,

    I know everyone announced their intentions to participate days ago but I wasn't sure if I'd have anything to contribute.  Now I think I may.  So here's my birthday present to you.  (Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be the other way around.  But I forgive you for not knowing.  ;)  There’s more to come, and hopefully a PDF of the complete game with graphics and maps; most of which are *mostly* completed.

    But for now here’s a bit of a teaser of what I am working on.  It also helps that I had bits and pieces of things to work with, hope thats alright Mike?

    In anycase this uses a hybrid (or will once it’s fully in place) of the mechanics underlying Crystal Spheres and Revenge of the Crypt Fiend, more or less.  But enough of that, onward!  Onward!


    Ubel They: Song of the Blood Spheres

    Background: In the age of Godhr, when the gods yet walked the earth, the Wolf Clans of Ombrage were united under the banner of the High Chiefs of Nimrud.  For thousands of years they served as protectors and guardians of the clan lands through their High Chiefs.  These High Chiefs were appointed by each clan to serve a year and a day.  By all accounts they were just, their councilors wise, and their Battle Wizards renowned across the three continents.  Yet they feared the invaders from across the sea, the tamers of the wind whose crimson sails too often were sighted near their shores.  Such was the age of Vindr.
         Then the Sphere of Meliq, one of the ten Blood Spheres of Riule, magical orbs long thought lost, was rediscovered.  Found hidden in ruins deep within the forest Ancien the sphere was brought to Nimrud, where news of its discovery quickly spread throughout the land.  All clans hailed this event as a omen signaling the start of a new era of prosperity and peace.  For with the Sphere of Meliq the clan Chiefs, and their wise councilors, hoped to return the land to its ancient glory and see the light of the Riule gods once more returned to the world.  So began the Wolf Age.

    Alas, for all its promise, the Wolf Age was short lived.  And never would the race of men be the same again, for with its closing the rule of the clan chiefs ended and their ancestral lands, left in chaos, were over run with monstrous beasts.  Creatures of nightmare roamed the countryside, vampire bandits preyed upon unwary travelers, and, worst of all, the Sphere of Meliq had been captured by the race of cold blooded saurians who would become reviled throughout the three continents as the Slave-lords.  So began the Draconian ascendancy.

    Synopsis:  Players in Song of the Blood Spheres will belong to one of three alliance groups:  the Draconic Coalition, Necromancer’s Guild, or Monster’s Free Union.  These factions represent the ruling tripartite native groups living in the world of They (pronounced: th AE).  Characters will be archetypal heroes summoned to the present age through the mists of time.

    While each faction may have disparate end-goals they all find themselves in the same position, they need Heroes.  Of course there haven’t been any heroes in Ubel They for hundreds of generations, which means that each group has to concentrate their resources to summon a hero from the mists of space and time.


    All Heroes have three Traits, in addition to their Hero Factor; these Traits are: Courage, Will, and Strength.  Each player has exactly 9 attribute points to distribute between these Traits.

    Courage: A measure of bravery, valor, and daring.  Very important for determining success of Heroic Actions.

    Will:  Every Hero has one, and thank goodness for it!.  If not for Will most Heroes would all too easily succumb to the wiles of Witches and fall prey to every bargain basement Succubus.

    Strength:  This trait measures brawn, vigor, and the potency of a Hero’s physical attributes.


    Prior to actual play everyone will need to determine their Heroic character.  To do this simply take 2D6 and roll on the chart below.  For those who read the rules, and you know who you are, warm the dice up.  Hope you get what you rolled for!

      2. Knight
      3. Paladin
      4. Warrior Crusader
      5. Blade Dancer
      6. Sword Mistress
      7. Warrior
      8. Norseman Berserker
      9. Knight Templar (Knight of Justice)
    10. Sword Dancer
    11. Amazon Archer
    12. Barbarian Warrior


    There’s a lot more yet to do, and quite a lot omitted, obviously, but all things considered how’s that so far?

    Kind Regards,

    Kester Pelagius

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: talysman on May 13, 2003, 10:02:17 PM
    mmmm.... some interesting dishes being served up by the other chefs!

    here is an apperitif to get the juices primed for my upcoming course...

    Daemons of Strife and Love
    a role-playing game based on the sayings of Empedocles

    Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

    There (in the sphere) are distinguished neither the swift limbs of the sun, no, nor the shaggy earth in its might, nor the sea, -- so fast was the god bound in the close covering of Harmony, spherical and round, rejoicing in his circular solitude.

    Kalinia clambered calmly and carefully up the slope towards the crater, as she had done with daily reverance since first she heard the teachings. she could already hear the burbling of  the magma boiling above her, could smell the acridness of the brimstone.

    perhaps it was this hellish symphony of the senses that distracted her enough to allow the men to surprise her.

    "Kalinia! Stop!"

    she turned when she heard the rough voice of Eurystheus. he and two other men from the village were scrambling up behind her.

    "you must return with us, woman!" Eurystheus bellowed. "you must answer for your blasphemy!"

    "poor Eurystheus," Kalinia murmurred, "you do not see that it is blood sacrifice that is the true blasphemy."

    "silence!" Eurystheus shouted, lunging to grab her wrist. but with preternatural ease, she stepped to one side, dodging his motion, then scrambled further up the slope, closer to the crater.

    "you do not know what you do," she continued, backing away from the men now. "the ox you chose to offer to Zeus could have been your grandfather's father, or your mother's great uncle. you stain your soul with murder."

    "do not speak filth, Kalinia!" Eurystheus spat. "when the elders sit in judgement, do you wish them to condemn you death?"

    "condemn?" she asked. "perhaps many lives from now, you will understand death as I do."

    and without turning, without a trace of fear, she threw herself backwards to the flames of the volcano.

    Title: Songs of Distant Spheres Part 2 (long)
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 14, 2003, 05:22:37 AM
    Dr. Emile Tenizen analyzed Hannah Zutachi’s work but avoided the traps the Malganorn placed in their transmissions.  He kept hold of his own mind and although he could not reproduce his own Malganorn he was able to create powerful battle suits, called RIFv or Robotic Infantry Fighting Vehicle.  Over the years they have become to be known as Riffers and their Pilots known as Riffraff.  

    It takes a special person, capable of understanding the nuances of the various Songs.  Those who do are seen as both Hero and Villain.  They are Heroes when fighting the Malganorn but Villains when tweaking the noses of the ruling elite who run the Empire of Man.


    An enormous Galaxy in a Time of War…

    Exploration of Setting

    From the Orion Gate to the Great Rift, mankind has spread all over the galaxy. Thousands of worlds have been made colonies and even thousands of years in our future, all the secrets have not yet been revealed.

    In all its travels, Mankind has only met two Alien races.  The friendly and highly intelligent Ulmboks and the malignant Malganorn.  Still, many worlds have strange flora and fauna, and hold ancient caches of knowledge left behind by a civilization that does not even have a name.   Some people fear this knowledge and some, like the Imperial Intelligence Directive, wish to use it to further their own political views.

    The Gifted however, embrace this knowledge as it helps them pilot their RIFv with even more precision and flexibility.  Outside of the machines though, the Gifted is still a powerful force, capable of doing things mundane citizens could only dream of.  They exist in a political world that casts many shadows and RIFvP often times find themselves lost in the Shadows or worse, consumed by them.

    A people torn between the desire for freedom and the desire for survival…

    Exploration of Character

    When the Imperial Army and the IID watch every move you make, its difficult to get “creative” in the pilot seat.  Creativity itself is often seen as a sign of Malganorn corruption.  Every day people are subjected to the dreaded Mind Scan.  Few leave unscarred from its nightmarish grip.

    You however, do not fear the IID or the tyrannical corporations that force-feed the population culture in their time of need.  You’re a Riffer or RIFVP (Robotic Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Pilot) and the Imperial Army needs you as a man needs water.  Some say you’re a rebel but you and your fellow pilots are just expressing yourselves in a way the rest of the population finds alien.

    Of course none of the mundane populace knows the tight rope you walk. Knowledge is power and the Malganorn try and seduce every pilot they come across.  It is difficult. You can hit all the right resonance without some of that ancient know how, but damn does it make it a lot user.

    Materials Needed for Play

    Paper, Pencils, and Miniatures are helpful to record data and have a visual representation of play. Minis are NOT mandatory. (See role-playing combat in the Skills and Conflict Resolution chapter)

    1x d20. A 20 Sided Die or some computer programs that can reproduce the same random roll is needed.

    4x d6. At least 4 6 sided dice or some computer programs that can reproduce the same random roll is needed.

    Chapter One:

    System: Target 15

    Roles and Character Generation

    Players take on the roles or Persona of a Gifted, RIFv pilot.  Their goals are many, although survival in the front lines of the Malganorn War is first among them.

    The following are samples of what a RIFvP or Gifted might be like:

    The Soldier: Even if it had not been the Malganorn War, you would have found someone to fight.  You enjoy being a soldier and aside from your survival, your main goal is to advance in Rank and military Skills.

    The Rebel: Ok sure, your fighting the Malganorn to save the Human race. The Ulmbok to yeah. But… BUT! Your doing this so that the Population sees you and gets all excited so that when the Malganorn are gone, the real enemy, The Empire, can be overthrown.  Rules are for dipshits.

    The Martyr: You were destined to die. First it was God and then Ulmbok rights on Gemini II and then the Sivrik Fish on Minos IX.  If there is a cause you are throwing your worthless life away to see it gets done.  Now the ultimate cause is here.  Someone has to defeat the Malganorn once and for all and you intend to die, spectacularly, trying.

    Ulmbok Pilot: You’re cute and fuzzy and can manipulate the Gifs better then any Human, but of course you never tell them that.  Life is fun! Of course you hate to see violence but you see the Malganorn for the Children of Entropy that they are and have remorse in killing them. If you can have fun with the Humans along the way, well cool.

    The above are mere examples of the kinds of Roles a Player may choose for their Persona.

    Some Definitions for Chapter One

    Persona: A fictional character that a Player portrays in the game.
    Attributes: The basic building blocks of a Persona that determine the basis for Statistics and Skills.
    Statistics:  The more complex building blocks of a Persona that define certain in game abilities.

    Persona (Character) Generation

    Step 1: The Group Mind

    This is not really a crunchy bit of rules but mainly a discussion between GM (Game Master) and the Players over the mood of the game and what kind of characters are going to fit the game best.  In any group there can be only one (1) Ulmbok character so the group should decide who gets to play that if indeed anyone wants to.

    Step 2:  Attribute Generation

    Definition of Attributes

    Physique: The overall physical strength, health, and dexterity of the Persona.
    Intellect: The basic intelligence and learning ability of the Persona.
    Psyche: The Willpower and basic Sanity of a Persona

    All Attributes start at 1.  The Player then has 10 extra points to divide between the various Attributes, with no score higher then 6, that is no more then 5 extra points can be added to any Attribute.

    Step 3: Statistic Generation

    Definition of Statistics

    Initiative: The ability to make the first move in any Conflict* Resolution.
    Health:  The ability to sustain Physical Damage. When a Persona reaches –1 Health he or she is dead. Dead. Dead. Get it? Dead.
    Sanity: The ability to sustain Mental Damage. This number, unlike Health, cannot be healed over time except with a lot of Therapy.  Certain Gifts can return Sanity but once it reaches 0, the Persona is Insane and its Role changes.
    Passive Defense: This is a combat ability, when a character is otherwise occupied it defines the basic defensive ability of that Persona. This is negated if the character is unconscious or immobilized.
    Smack: This is a combat ability, when a character kicks or punches or hits with a melee weapon, this is added to damage.

    *Conflict does NOT mean necessarily, Combat.

    Initiative = 1d20 + [(Physique + Intellect)/2]
    Health= Physique x 4
    Sanity= Psyche x 4
    Passive Defense (PD)= Physique x 2
    Smack = Physique

    Step 4: Skill and Song Determination

    Definitions of Skills and Songs

    Skill: A learned ability or a talent honed to a higher ability.  Cooking, shooting a gun, and seduction are examples of Skills.
    Song: Songs, also known as Gifts, are the super-physical powers that the Gifted and the Malganorn possess.
    Skill / Song Level: Untrained, Trained, Expert, Teacher, Master. These are the measures of the ability for each skill or song.  That is, how proficient each Persona is with these skills.  There is no “Untrained” level for Songs. A Song cannot be used untrained.

    Table 1.4
    Untrained   Trained   Expert   Teacher   Master
    -2   0   +3   +6   +12

    Each Persona begins with a number of trained skills equal to: Intellect x 2
    They may upgrade half of these (or Intellect x 1) to Expert Status OR upgrade 1 to Teacher (+6) Level.

    Every Persona begins with the following Skills:

    Pilot, RIFv: Expert
    Computer Use: Trained
    Combat, RIFv: Expert
    Language: Imperial: Expert
    -These may be upgraded as above.

    The use of these numbers will be explained in Chapter 2.

    Each Persona begins with a number of trained Songs equal to Psyche. They may upgrade one of these Expert.  

    Every Persona begins with the following Songs:

    Short Warp: Trained
    Song of the Volcano: Trained
    Song of the Blood: Trained
    -These may be upgraded as above.
    Step 5:  Gender, Name, Appearance

    At this point most of the crunchy bits are done. The Player should choose their name, gender, age, planet of origin and any defining physical characteristics.  A discussion of the attitudes and goals of each Persona would also be appropriate since these may have changed based on choices during character creation.

    Also there is Rank. All Personas begin, unless otherwise noted by the GM, as a Flight Lieutenant (Rank 1). Rank is purely for in game influence. It has no real mechanical purpose.

    Otherwise the Persona is finished.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 14, 2003, 06:03:36 AM
    Quote from: The Chairman
    The aromas drifting up from Game Design Kitchen Arena are almost too tantalizing! Less than three days left, and one can see the determination of these proud warriors. Some have had to step aside already, but others proceed with great vigor! Who will reign in the end as Iron Game Chef Simulationist?

    We shall see!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 14, 2003, 06:29:48 AM
    Quote from: Vulcan's Forge Background


    On the eve of a new century, humanity stood on the threshold of lasting world peace.  Technology and social development had reached new heights, and all Earth’s pundits were predicting a new era of global prosperity and healing.  Class, regional and tribal discontents and distinctions had faded almost entirely into the embrace of recorded history.

    We had begun taking the first tentative steps towards a permanent human presence outside of our planet – yet still within our own solar system.  Semi-permanent mining colonies had been established in the asteroid belts, and manned scientific stations were orbiting Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto.  A permanent colony was established on Earth’s Moon, and was beginning to build our first interstellar spaceships.

    Scientists for the first time truly and universally agreed that a Grand Unified Theory of physics was within our grasp.  Technological engineering discoveries had produced the first workable theory of interstellar travel.  Medical, biological and genetic science had merged – and against all odds was applied to the population at large in ethical and socially progressive ways.

    Many chronic, genetic diseases had been fully and totally conquered by this marriage of genetics and medicine.  Genetic engineering was used regularly, not to engineer a master race or guarantee super-human potential, but to mitigate the often devastating effects of genetic defects.

    Nationalism and the supremacy of the nation-state had given way a first to continental government alliances and eventually to a workable and accepted world governing body.  The global political landscape still included the nation-state political structure, but supreme authority for the governance of humanity had gradually evolved beyond the control of purely national actors – spurred on in large part by the advances in computer network technologies and the communities that arose as direct descendants of the so-called information super-highway.

    As the world began celebrating the beginning of a new century filled with the possibility of hope, redemption, technological and scientific achievement, and the real potential of colonizing the stars – the first wave of the invasion began.


    A small scouting force secured a beach-head on our planet unnoticed by all.  This new enemy from beyond the edge of our Solar System arrived quietly – predatory stalkers as invisible to us as the hunter behind the duck blind is to the ducks.  The first signal of trouble was the rapid resurrection of national and tribal factionalism.

    The Earth Alliance crumbled as member states pulled out of decades’ old global agreements and began rekindling old and sometimes ancient rivalries and hatreds.  Rapidly advancing technological and scientific breakthroughs were channeled into vastly destructive military applications.  Regional warfare erupted all over the globe – and former superpowers began to reassert their claims to unilateral global supremacy.

    A core group of Earth Alliance intelligence operative stumbled upon the truth as the world precipitously unraveled: Earth was under attack by alien forces.  These aliens seemed able to slide through society unnoticed – and to manipulate the political and military actors close to the centers of national, regional and tribal power throughout the world.

    The aliens had no discernable physical form.  Rather they seemed able to possess humans and use them as puppets and tools to accomplish their goals.  These Fallen humans, once infected by an alien possession, were lost for good – no method was ever discovered for healing them or removing the alien taint.  The Fallen, as they became know, also exhibited seemingly super-human capabilities.  Some of them manipulated the fundamental forces of the universe to devastating effect.

    The only clue to the alien’s existence were the Fallen and their paranormal capabilities.  Whenever one of the alien’s human hosts exhibited such stunning powers, they spoke in a strange, haunting voice that sounded like soulful singing to the human ear.

    Dedicated efforts by teams of covert intelligence operatives proved the existence of the invading aliens and brought this proof to the attention of second tier political leaders worldwide.  The line staff of the Earth Alliance arranged global coups d'état – and took control of the worlds political and military institutions back from the Aliens.

    The bloody and destructive revolutions claimed the lives of millions of innocent civilians.  Several of the aliens were taken alive – and given over to the scientific and research arms of the Earth Alliance for study.  What they discovered alarmed them greatly – and sent humanity down a path that would seal its ultimate destiny and signal the beginning of the end for our world as we knew it.


    Earth Alliance scientists learned that the aliens captured represented only advanced scouts for a much larger invasion force.  Military analysts studied the situation, and given the destruction caused by so small a group, decided that if the full alien invasion force arrived at Earth – all would be lost in a matter of hours.

    Earth Alliance leaders rallied their nation-state members, the Earth’s scientific and engineering communities, and the remaining worldwide military-industrial complexes to build weapons that could be sent out into space to meet the approaching invasion.

    The scientists studying the alien tainted Fallen broke through the language barrier and learned that the alien’s were capable of manipulating the very fabric of space and time simply through the use of their spoken language.  Try as they did, however, the scientists were unable to achieve the same results with untainted humans.  Despite being able to learn and speak the alien language, some critical component to unlocking these supremely important paranormal abilities was missing.

    The Earth Alliance leadership demanded that the scientific community apply their prodigious genetic engineering capabilities to the problem – demanding the creation of controllable alien tainted soldiers capable of using these uniquely powerful songs – as the powers had come to be known.  Project Vulcan was started in secret with over two hundred test subjects.

    The gene splicing resulted in mostly horrible death for the test subjects.  Only three survived the process – but they could successfully sing in the alien tongue and thereby manipulate the fundamental forces of the universe.

    Unfortunately, these successes were not created with any kind of control mechanism in place, and the three successful test subjects lost short and intense battles with insanity.  They escaped and killed thousands of innocents before being put down by massive military force.

    Undaunted, the scientists of Project Vulcan began again, combining in the lessons learned from their failures and control ideas from the cybernetic and robotics industries.  Their second round of tests achieved success beyond their wildest dreams.  They were able to create cybernetic-genetic alien/human hybrids who were eminently controllable and devastatingly powerful as military weapons.

    Given humanities outcry after the first Vulcan disaster – and given the fact that the alien invaders could find and fully possess anyone involved in Project Vulcan, Earth Alliance’s leaders proposed a risky plan for mass producing these super-soldiers.

    The Project Vulcan staff created a core group of Vulcans (the synthetic alien/human hybrids) and gave them the programming and resources necessary to set up secret factories capable of mass producing the super-soldiers.  These factories were known collectively as Vulcan’s Forge.   


    Several thousand of these super-soldiers, along with hundreds of thousands of human space marines (power armor wearing soldiers known as Impacters) headed into space in newly constructed cruisers capable of interstellar travel – technology reverse engineered from the ships of the aliens.

    Humanity met the full force of invading aliens just outside the boundaries of our solar system.  The war raged for close to a year – with the Earth Alliance continually sending more and more Vulcans and human soldiers into the fray.

    Earth suffered a nearly 90% casualty rate – but we eventually won the war.


    As humanities champions returned to Earth, they were met with suspicion and often times outright hatred.  Most of humanity viewed the Vulcans as fully alien, and refused to accept them in any role in a post war civilization.

    Earth Alliance leaders, responding to the wishes of their constituents, and frankly fearing for their own power, began mandating that all Vulcans be rounded up and ‘de-commissioned’.  The orders went out, and the Earth Alliance Impacters were eventually given the thankless task of hunting down the Vulcans and finding their secret factories.

    The Vulcan’s reacted violently – as part of their programming included a survival protocol.  Many of them went insane, as the tension between their directives to protect humanity directly conflicted with their survival protocols.  A core group of visionary Vulcans realized that humanities only hope was to believe that they had destroyed the Vulcans.

    They maneuvered the Earth Alliance into recalling all of their Earth Alliance Impacter units from space in order to meet a gathering force of Vulcans.  The Vulcans struck the returning cruisers by surprise, and destroyed them all – reigning nuclear fire across the Earth.

    The devastating aftermath of the battle destroyed much of Humanities technological advancements – particularly the secrets of successful space flight – and drove the remaining humans underground and into hiding.

    The remaining Vulcan’s boarded the remaining interstellar spacecraft and left our solar system for good.

    Unbeknownst to the retreating Vulcans, they’d left at least one of their secret factories in tact – damaged, but in tact.  Over the next thousand years, as humanity waited out the prolonged nuclear winter, Vulcan’s Forge slowly produced a new breed of Vulcans.


    Tentatively at first, humanity clawed its way out of the caves and back into the light.  The landscape had changed dramatically – having been permanently scarred by the years of war and nuclear fallout.

    Most of the Earth remained barren and devoid of life.  But much of humanities former glory remained.  The returning humans found technology lying around – and in many cases they were able to make this technology work.  In the hundred years since humanities return to the surface, many of the lost technological gains have been found again.

    Unfortunately, most humans don’t have enough information to operate, let alone reproduce, many of the technological marvels they have found.

    Much of the human race now lives in massive Archologies – cities built literally on the ruins of massive cities abandoned a thousand years earlier.  Each such Archology typically considers itself a nation-state unto itself.  Regional and tribal warfare is the norm – and rabid and sometimes mutated gangs roam the streets of these Archologies.  Life is short, brutal and often filled with strife.

    But among the humans walk small groups of Vulcan’s – produced by Vulcan’s Forge – who still cling to their primary directive: Protect Humanity.  Acting if nothing else like itinerant police and avenging angels – they are almost universally feared but strangely welcomed by the downtrodden and the oppressed.

    They are the protectors of this age.  They are the protagonists of humanities new myth and legend.  They are the heroes of Vulcan’s Forge.



    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: dragongrace on May 14, 2003, 07:59:27 AM
    DragonGrace JOE--

    I: Quick Introduction - BAM!

    Volcano - Takes the form of a game mechanic in which it acts as a time bomb.
    Song - Takes the form of a game mechanic which is essential to personal victory.
    Sphere - takes the form of an in game aesthetic in which the Celestial Sphere is a basis of an in game mechanic.
    Blood - Appears in the title and is a measure of a characters health, thus a mechanic.

    Foul Blood is about mental illness.  This can be taken as seriously or as light hearted as one wishes in a game context, but I personally take mental illness to be a serious issue.  It runs in the family to some extent.  It runs in many families to some extent, and while I don't not fear that I will suffer from anything other than a delusion of greatness from the rational part of my brain, the irrational part fears it will be forgotten and in return forget.  In all reality, we have our fun with the notion of insanity, but in the end, it's just sadness.  Thanks.  JOE--

    II: A Couple of Welcomes

    Quote from: a fellow patient

    Welcome to the Celestial Institute for the Mentally Ill.  That's how all the doctor's cheerily greet the families as they walk through the door, while dollar signs and little colored pills dance through their eyes.  Let me tell you what's up, my partner in sanity.  We are called the enemy, we are the disturbed, the psychotic, the mentally ill.  Napoleon will tell you, just ask him.

    I hope you can remember the last song you heard, I hope you can remember the last time you looked at the stars, because that's all you got.  The blessed stars are our salvation, the beings from the stars will save us.  They will save us all but not through the damning marks stained upon the walls.  The stains are left there to haunt us.  They mark the past like words on a page.  They taunt us by their presence.  Personally I see the one, the horns, hunting me, running me down.  Damn it don't you tell no one.  Don't you tell no one what you think.  Who am I kidding they'll bleed it out of me in the basement.  Oh God!  Don't let them take me to the basement, I'll tell you what you want to know, I can't go down there again, I won't make ti this time.

    And I am breathing, breathing, where was I?  Oh yeah, Remember those words of that song that you know, you know?  Those words will save you in the end.  I'll help you out.  I can't remember all of mine, but I'll learn yours.  I'll help you remember.  I'll help you get back to their side of the fence.  I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine.  Only mines real itchy.  It itches with the words of the pen on that chicken scratch paper.  Dr. High and Mighty writes all kinds of things.  Sometimes he sends the nightmares, sometimes I ride those black stallions all the way to the hole in the floor and poop them buggers out like all the bad medicine that they give us in the med room.

    I'll help you out to be sure, mate.  I'll show you to your room and I'll see you first thing in the morning.  You'll know me.  You'll remember me.  I'll be sitting next to Napoleon holding onto my fuzzy bunny slippers so no one, AND I MEAN NO ONE, can take them from me ever again.

    Quote from: a fellow doctor

    So you see gentlemen, their madness is contagious.  Be careful not to fall into their mind traps.  Be careful to learn the words to those 'songs' they try so desperately to hold onto.  Those songs are a direct link to and from their brain and their insanity.  The very constellations that our beloved directly has placed upon these hallowed halls serves as a reminder to those words, so find out what helps them remember and remove it.  

    And as you heard my poor delusional patient state as well, there is some symbol that calls each and every one back to this reality.  I have long since know that a sign of the Bull draws my patient out.  Find out what that sign is as it will serve you in curing these poor souls.  That symbol blocks the set back of the insanity so that they can forget those rogue thought and ill humours that put them in this state.  

    The words, the stars, the signs, are all important but so is the traditional practices.  Finding the proper medication should be top on your priority list, as well as electrostatic, hydrostatic, and the old practice of leeching treatments that we maintain on the lower levels.  

    There were men and women inside those minds, my friends.  It is out job, nay, our duty to bring back those noble souls from the brink of insanity into the warmth and welcoming structure of our modern society.  Even if we have to wipe the slate clean, as it were, it will be better than sending them back into the world in the state you see them in.  Identity complexes, obsession and dependency disorders, and many other ailments are all curable.  It's 1921 and we have the technology and the know how to save these poor wretches.  

    Now, you have your assignments, get a good nights rest, and show up bright and early for the morning session.  Each day is a new day and another chance to welcome them back to the sane and productive world.

    III: The Character

    FoulBlood - Char Sheet


    Celestial Institute of the Mentally Ill

    as Patient:
    my Name: ________________________________
    my Illness: _____________________________
    my Song: ________________________________
    ..... words Remembered: _________________
    Salvation: ______________________________
    Damnation: ______________________________
     Blood:  i - ii - iii - iv - v - vi - vii - viii - ix - x  
    Psyche:  i - ii - iii - iv - v - vi - vii - viii - ix - x
    Volcano: i - ii - iii - iv - v - vi - vii
    Notes: __________________________________

    as Doctor:
    Patient: ________________________________
    Diagnosis: ______________________________
    Mantra: _________________________________
    Constellation: __________________________
    Symbol: _________________________________
    Observations: ___________________________

    The above Character sheet is for those who simply write to write it out instead of using the designed sheet found here (

    FoulBlood Character Info

    As a player of Foul Blood you are both Patient and Doctor.  As a Patient you must try to retain a sense of self through your own personal mantra, your song.  As a Doctor you must rid your patient of self by making them forget those silly words that they cling to.  Outside of the knowledge of both player and doctor are the Patient attributes of Blood and Psyche.  Blood determines your physical health level, and Psyche determines you mental health level.  At the beginning of the game both begin at 10 (x).  Volcano is also a meta-game concept in which you track your patient's breaking point.  You start the game with 0 points in your Volcano.

    As a Patient, there are some things you must know about yourself and you must pay attention to the others.  First of all, under what name were you admitted.  And what do they claim you have.  Don't worry too much about your illness.  It's never right, the doctor's guess anyway until they have you stabilized.  Now what's most important is your Song.  What 5 words do you sing to yourself in your head when no one is listening.  What 5 words sooth your soul and tell you who you are.  These are words from a song you have heard.  Any 5 words at all.  Keep them a tightly guarded secret.  The doctors know you have them, so they'll make you talk about your life, or your mother, or some odd dream you may have had in the hopes that you give the words away.  If they find out the words they'll make you forget.  

    Never fear though, your fellow inmates in this mental prison are your support group.  Don't tell us your words whatever you do, some of us can't be trusted, but those of us who can will try and remember your words for you, just ask in case you forget, know what I mean?  This place the CIMI is loaded with imagry.  Some will drive you mad and some will be your salvation.  When you first arrived it was under a Constellation on the Celestial Sphere.  Remember that Constellation.  It is your salvation.  It is as much a part of you now as the words of your song.  Unfortunately the hallway you walked down was planned.  I personally think the director is some demon playing sick joke on us.  But you will have noticed a symbol on the wall on your Way in.  That's your damnation.  

    Only you noticed it, no need to worry.  These things help and hinder you along the way.  If your constellation is discovered you will never be able to remember the words.  If you symbol is discovered, it's a race between your decent into madness and getting out.  But since I was a betting man on the outside, I'd bet on the madness.

    You don't have long, A week at best.  Remember the words.  Forget and remember, that's your only way out.  Remember that above all else.  Now forget we ever had this conversation.  I don't want to be discovered.  Not again.  Not this time.

    As a Doctor there are some things you should know.  For instance doctor, how your patient refers to themselves.  This is important in retaining that connection to their identity.  Secondly the diagnosis.  The Interns here are sloppy and it's likely they messed it up, so experiment with low doses until you find the appropriate medication for the patient.  You'll know when you have as their health will begin to stabilize and progress will really speed up then.  We haven't had any serious injuries as a result of this practice but until we can hire better help it's what we have to do.

    Now When these patients come in they always have this odd little phrase in mind.  It's some kind of mantra that helps them retain the madness.  Our principle job is to make them forget those words.  Once they forget those words, you can see that Tabala Rasa look of thankfulness.  A day later they can go home and rebuild their lives in a productive fashion.  

    Pay close attention to the others however.  Because they seem to want to help each other retain the madness.  To do this they use a mnemonic device that the director perceives to help these poor sods.  The Constellations, as beautiful as they are, seem to serve as a memory device of the way they were when they came in.  I have urged the director time and time again to white wall everything, but he won't hear of it.  

    There seems to be some traumatic symbol in each patient's life however that will help you get to the core of their psyche and cure them that much quicker.  Finding that symbol is important in your job.  Now the patient's never cooperate so you have to really dig in deep and try and get them to give away clues as to what might be troubling them.  Find that symbol, the constellation, and the words and you have a success story for your portfolio.  

    Keep good notes, doctor, and good luck, these patients, I'm convinced, as just as smart as you and me.

    IV: The Celestial Institute of the Mentally Ill (CIMI)

    CIMI is a medium size complex in the Northen plains of South Dakota.  Outside in the front courtyard of the building is  a large sculpture of a globe but instead of the continents of the world there are constellations encircling the surface of the sphere.   The Celestial Sphere (  Entering the pristine white walls of the CIMI building you find a fountain in the middle of the entrance hall that gurgles soothingly.  A Receptionist with hair pulled into a tight bun at the top of her head smiles warmly at you as you enter.

    You are quickly given the grand tour.  A tour that clearly avoids certain areas of the Institute but instead highlights its own magnificence.  You see the room called the Chamber of Friendship and are informed that all the patients meet each other in the morning there with the doctors as a friendly kind of discussion and learning period.  The walls have all kinds of arcane and archaic symbols around them along with constellations copied expertly from the globe out front.

    You see the medication distribution center with the color coded shelves of pills and liquid medications lining the walls behind strong steel bars.  You are told that a staff of professional Pharmacologists man the room all times of the day and indeed as you walk by a young gentlemen in a white robe and a name tag reading Stewart smiles at you as you pass by.

    You see an empty room that patient's typically stay in, a lavish courtyard where patient's get free time, and a sanitary cafeteria where patient's calmly and quietly each a nutritious meal three times a day.  You are indicated where the doctor's offices are and where you will go in case you want to learn about your friend or relative who is staying at the Institute for a time.  Comfortable in the environment and security of the CIMI you happily turn them over a a pair of burly smiling male nurses and walk out the door.

    V: Dice and System

    In Foul blood, you are keeping a close watch over two statistics: Blood and Psyche.  Blood determines your physical health level while at the institute and Psyche determines your mental health level while at the institute.  Each attribute can be affected at different times of the day, but the way in which they change is static.  Both Blood and Psyche start at 10 points each.

    Whenever a roll for Blood is called, you roll both the Red and White Dice.  If the Red Die is greater than on equal to the White Die you gain a point of Blood.  If the Red Die is less than the White Die then you lose a point of Blood.

    Whenever a roll for Psyche is called, you roll both the Red and White Dice.  If the White Die is greater than on equal to the Red Die you gain a point of Psyche.  If the White Die is less than the Red Die then you lose a point of Psyche.

    In the event that both the Red and White Die are equal in either a Blood Roll or a Psyche Roll, it is a success as I have indicated above, however you must choose one person to give a clue about your constellation.

    VI: The Daily Routine

    Patient's and Doctors have a daily routine at the Celestial Institute of the Mentally Ill.  This schedule dictates when they will meet, how much free time they have and what they can do to become healthier happier people.  The Daily routine starts in the morning of the next day any patient arrives.  They get a doctor assigned to them and they attend the Morning meeting.  After the morning meeting each patient then gets ushered into an isolation tank.  After the tank meds are distributed, and then they see their doctor.  Depending on how well the one on one session goes, the doctor can prescribe some physical therapy or the patient can have some free time.  Then it is off to bed until the next day where the schedule repeats itself.

    • The Morning Meeting
    • Isolation Tank
    • Medications
    • One on One Doctor Therapy
    • Physical Treatment or Free Time
    • Bedtime
    • [/list:u]

      The Morning Meeting: All the patients and all the doctors attend the morning meeting.  Each patient tells one thing about themselves.  This can be a part of a dream, a word, a sentence from their past.  Patients are not allowed to repeat anything they have said at any previous morning meeting.  What they say must do one of two things, either incite another patient to act out or reveal a hint about either their song, their constellation, their symbol or their illness.  Each player should listen carefully to each of the other players because if they find that a word of their song has been said, they get a point towards their volcano.  Also a player may be giving a hint about themselves that can be used against them.
      No dice rolls are made in this phase.

      The Isolation Tank: The Isolation tank is a patient's chance to mislead or redirect their statements about themselves.  Patient's give another sentence in the isolation tank that may or may not lead does the path to recovery.  In the tank they can give false clues or real clues, tell a story or mouth off.  In the end the patient must make a Psyche Roll and adjust their Psyche score accordingly.  If a patient's Psyche Score goes down a point they must add a point to their volcano.

      Medications: From the isolation tank, patient's are required to take their meds.  Taking medication is simply a phase in which a Blood roll is made.  According to the results of the roll, adjust your Blood Score appropriately.  This is a phase in which a doctor has to take some guess as to what you have.  This is the doctors chance to stabilize some of the basic health of the patient.

      One on One Session: After you've had your medication, you see the doctor for a little one on one time.  The doctor can ask one specific yes or no question during this session to which the patient must answer truthfully.  This is a doctor's opportunity to discover some aspect of their patient's Psyche.  Whether it be a word from the patient's song, or the constellations that calms them, or the symbol that incites them, or the underlying illness that got them institutionalized in the first place.  The question can only be about one of the four: Song, Constellation, Symbol, or illness.  The question cannot be a blanket question such as "Is you constellation A, B, C, D, or, E?"  The question must be specific to a particular point, such as "Is your symbol of a bull?"  In the case of the song, a doctor can ask if their 5 word portion of the song contains a specific word.  Also, a doctor can ask if the song their five words are from is a specific song.  If a doctor guesses correctly then a patient must make a Psyche roll.  Again if the patient loses a point of Psyche they gain a point in their volcano.  A Patient then goes to Free Time.  If the doctor fails to guess correctly then the doctor prescribes some physical therapy in the basement.

      The Basement:  The Basement isn't a pleasant place.  Some patients spend a good deal of time in the basement.  Especially when they first come.  It helps to take the edge off of them.  The basement is a flat out Blood Roll.  After the basement, patient's then go to their rooms for the night.

      Free Time: Free time is where patients interact with one another but without the doctors.  Free time is much like the morning meeting in which each patient must tell one things about themselves, or tell another patient something about themselves, or make a request.  It is here that a patient can remember a word of their song.  It is here however that a patient may have to make a Psyche Roll.  If a patient choose to give a hint away about themselves then all is fine and other players take note.  If a patient makes a request, it can only be for help to remember their song.  A requests are handled first.  Players can incite one another by guessing a word that the patient already knows, or guessing their symbol or constellation.  Anytime a player is incited at free time they must make a Psyche Roll.  A lose in Psyche equals a gain in volcano.

      Dreams and Nightmares:  After either free time or the Basement, patients return to their room to sleep off the days events either through a pleasant dream or a violent nightmare.  Doctors take a stab at their patient by playing a word over and over in the night.  If that word is correct then the player has a violent nightmare and must make a choice between either making a Blood Roll or a Psyche Roll.  The patient also forgets that word of their song.  If the doctor guesses incorrectly then, it is a safe and restful night of soothing dreams and the patient's volcano goes down one point.

      VII: The Volcano

    Quote from: Dream Symbol definition

    "The longer and harder the subconscious is supressed, the more devestaing the final outburst."

    The volcano is something that doctors try to avoid because it upsets the patients and causes a ruckus.  But it is a necessary part of the patient's recovery.  

    The volcano is a seven step block in a patient's mind to prevent violent outbursts and displays of supernatural abilites.  The volcano for game purposes is seven steps until the rest of the people at the table need to look out.  On the volcanic scale at positions 3 and 6, the patient has a violent outburst of minimal magnitude.  They can target one other patient who then chooses make either a Blood or a Psyche roll.  At step 7, the volcano blows and a dramtic supernatual outburst occurs.  All patients must then make both a Psyche roll and a Blood roll.  After the volcano blows it returns to a state of 0 and the process begins again.

    During the night, when a patient dreams and they step back one on the volcano scale, should they step back into position 3, there is no outburst of any kind.

    VIII: Winning and Losing

    Winning is difficult from the couch, Winning is easy from the chair, after all only the patient's suffer.  Losing from a patient's perspective seems almost inevitable.  If you lose all you Blood Points, you fall comatose and are moved into an intensive care unit for the rest of your life.  If your lucky they tattoo a tasty vegetable name onto your forehead.  If you lose all your Psyche points you become unreachable.  Not even ghosts will remember your name if you can't.  Losing all of one's words will leave you an empty shell of a person with no ambition, but at least you get to go home to your family if you can remember them.

    If however you remember even one of your words even though the doctor is sure you have forgotten them, you get to go home and try to piece back together your life.  Winning is retaining a sense of self through your song, even when others try to medicate, electrocute, beat, or scare it out of you.  As a patient this is almost the only way of winning.  The only other way is to be the last patient standing.  With the Institute to just you and your doctor it's only matter of time before they let you go, isn't it?

    As a doctor you lose if your patient goes Comatose, after all how else can you keep charging a bill.  But sometimes these tragedies occur so it's only a minor loss, you'll get other patients.  As a doctor you can proudly keep your license hanging on the wall if you can cure your patient of all the words of their ridiculous song and expose them to the symbol that plagues them.  This is your highest success.  Of a minor victory if your patient is reduced to 0 Psyche, they remain in your care until you can reach them again, and you can still bill the family.

    IX: Diagnosis

    At this point in the game, the actualities of an illness are not expressed.  The validity of the patient's illness is left up to the player. (Should their character actually have it or whether they were admitted falsely.)  Ideally should the game be developed further the illnesses below may have a greater impact on how a character is played.  As a result, the player may decide to play up to the illness or not.  This list came from .

    Anxiety Disorders ::
    Acute Stress Disorder  (acute psychological consequences of previous trauma)
    Agoraphobia  (generalized irrational fear)
    Generalized Anxiety Disorder  (nonspecific anxiety)
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  (obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals)
    Panic Disorder  (unprovoked panic attacks)
    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder  (non-acute psychological consequences of previous trauma)
    Separation Anxiety Disorder  
    Social Phobia  (irrational fear of embarrassment)
    Specific Phobia  (other specific irrational fears)

    Childhood Disorders ::
    Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder  
    Conduct Disorder  (the Antisocial Personality Disorder of Childhood)
    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (not only for children)

    Eating Disorders ::
    Anorexia Nervosa  (self-imposed starvation)
    Bulimia Nervosa  (binge eating and dieting)

    Mood Disorders  ::
    Bipolar I Disorder  (mania with/without major depression)
    Bipolar II Disorder  (hypomania with major depression)
    Cyclothymic Disorder  (numerous brief episodes of hypomania and minor depression)
    Dysthymic Disorder  (prolonged minor depression without mania/hypomania)
    Major Depressive Disorder  (major depression without mania)

    Personality Disorders ::
    Antisocial Personality Disorder  (impulsive, aggressive, manipulative)
    Avoidant Personality Disorder  (shy, timid, "inferiority complex")
    Borderline Personality Disorder  (impulsive, self-destructive, unstable)
    Dependent Personality Disorder  (dependent, submissive, clinging)
    Histrionic Personality Disorder  (emotional, dramatic, theatrical)
    Narcissistic Personality Disorder  (boastful, egotistical, "superiority complex")
    Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder  (perfectionistic, rigid, controlling)
    Paranoid Personality Disorder  (suspicious, distrustful)
    Schizoid Personality Disorder  (socially distant, detached)
    Schizotypal Personality Disorder  (odd, eccentric)

    Psychotic Disorders ::
    Brief Psychotic Disorder  
    Delusional Disorder  
    Schizoaffective Disorder  
    Schizophreniform Disorder
    Shared Psychotic Disorder

    Substance-Related Disorders ::
    Alcohol Dependence  (alcoholism)
    Amphetamine Dependence  (stimulants, speed, uppers, diet pills)
    Cannabis Dependence  (marijuana, grass, pot, weed, reefer, hashish, bhang, ganja)
    Cocaine Dependence  (coke, crack, coca leaves)
    Hallucinogen Dependence  (psychedelics, LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, DMT)
    Inhalant Dependence  (sniffing: glue, gasoline, toluene, solvents)
    Nicotine Dependence  (tobacco)
    Opioid Dependence  (heroin, methadone, morphine, demerol, percodan, opium, codeine, darvon)
    Phencyclidine Dependence  (PCP, angel dust)
    Sedative Dependence  (sleeping pills, barbiturates, seconal, valium, librium, ativan, xanax, quaaludes)

    Other Disorders ::
    Adjustment Disorder
    Autistic Disorder
    Multi-infarct Dementia
    Tourette's Disorder  

    X: Constellations and Symbols

    The list of Constellations comes from .  I modified the list to combine the three pieces of Argo the Boat into one entry to come up with the 44 original constellations of Ptolemy.  The inspiration for choosing this list of constellations can from the Celestial Sphere (  Symbols can be found on .  On the generated GIF character sheet I started placing each of them around the edge but in the effort of time I only placed a limited number of the appropriate symbols.  Generically the symbols reflect the constellations as they are found on the symbols website, or they are derived by me as a close approximation of meaning or expression of the equivalent Constellation.  In this manner Symbols and constellations are equal (44 of each).  However to a character seeing a constellation is different than seeing a symbol.  While they have the same meaning, they have different effects, so a character can have a constellation and a symbol that are the same in reference.

    Andromeda *         And    Daughter of Cassiopeia, chained maiden  
    Aquarius *          Aqr    Water-Bearer  
    Aquila *            Aql    Eagle          
    Ara *               Ara    Altar          
    Argo the Boat       Arg    Carina the Keep, Puppis the Stern, Vela the Sails
    Aries *             Ari    Ram            
    Auriga *            Aur    Charioteer    
    Boötes *            Boo    Herdsman      
    Cancer *            Cnc    Crab          
    Canis Major *       CMa    Big Dog        
    Canis Minor *       CMi    Little Dog    
    Capricornus *       Cap    Sea Goat          
    Cassiopeia *        Cas    The Queen          
    Centaurus *         Cen    Centaur        
    Cepheus *           Cep    The King          
    Cetus *             Cet    Whale          
    Corona Australis *  CrA    Southern Crown      
    Corona Borealis *   CrB    Northern Crown      
    Corvus *            Crv    Crow          
    Crater *            Crt    Cup            
    Cygnus *            Cyg    Swan          
    Delphinus *         Del    Dolphin        
    Draco *             Dra    Dragon        
    Equuleus *          Equ    Little Horse  
    Eridanus *          Eri    The River Eridanus      
    Gemini *            Gem    Twins          
    Hercules *          Her    The Son of Zeus    
    Hydra *             Hya    The Water Snake (female)  
    Leo *               Leo    Lion          
    Lepus *             Lep    Hare          
    Libra *             Lib    Balance (scale)      
    Lupus *             Lup    Wolf          
    Lyra *              Lyr    Lyre          
    Ophiuchus *         Oph    Serpent-Bearer      
    Orion *             Ori    The Hunter
    Pegasus *           Peg    The Winged Horse
    Perseus *           Per    The Rescuer of Andromeda
    Pisces *            Psc    Fishes
    Piscis Austrinus *  PsA    Southern Fish
    Sagitta *           Sge    Arrow
    Sagittarius *       Sgr    Archer
    Scorpius *          Sco    Scorpion
    Serpens *           Ser    Serpent (head=Caput, tail=Cauda)
    Taurus *            Tau    Bull
    Triangulum *        Tri    Triangle
    Ursa Major *        UMa    Great Bear
    Ursa Minor *        UMi    Little Bear
    Virgo *             Vir    Maiden

    XI: End/Cred/Thanks

    Credit where credit is due.  In the short time I've been at the forge, I've been exposed to so much, in time it's hard to decide where the influence has come from and where my own ideas have stemmed from.  I think it is a cumulative effort of anyone who's posts I've ever read, which is quite a few, and a special nod to SOAP, since the idea of discovering secrets seeped into the Foul Blood mixture.  Thanks, Mike, for the words and being THE IRON CHEF! BAM!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 14, 2003, 10:17:27 AM
    Greetings All,

    Wow, a lot of great entries today.  Some awesome work, too!

    Though I am beginning to think a week is barely enough time to cobble together a decent rough draft, I suppose Mr. Holmes has the right of it.  It really is amazing what a little friendly pressure, peer or otherwise, can propel one to accomplish.  Can't wait to read all the entries.

    I have a little something to add, though it's not as great.  In fact it's not really all that complete, but I have uploaded it just the same.  So, if you are interested, a rough working PDF of Ubel They is now available for your scorn, derision, and belly laughs at my Yahoo group, found here (  Let me know what you think.

    The PDF is roughly 800k and runs 30-32 pages.  Though that's mostly white space due to formatting and the fact there's yet a lot of detail that needs to be filled in.  But at least it's something to see, and there are maps.  

    Just log in, go to the file area, and click on the "Ubel They" folder.  Say, Mike, maybe that's what Iron Game Chef needs?  A group somewhere that everyone can UL files to.  What do you think?

    Don't strain your eyes while reading!

    Kind Regards,

    Kester Pelagius

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 14, 2003, 11:34:55 AM
    Nobody really expects much more than decent rough drafts. Though I was surprised by the quality as a whole of the last contests results. And these seem very nice as well. To say the least.

    Why one week? Because it seems long enough to get a game together and yet short enough to keep pressure there. We used to do 24 hour ones, but they tended not to get much repsonse. That's because only so many people can participate in a given 24 hours. If I had my druthers and could get people to sign up first or something, I'd go with that parameter. This way, people can pick the days that they want to work on their project, meaning more people play. Also it's a good period for suspense to build.

    Lastly I'm of a belief that it only takes about 24 hours to make the most important 90% of a game. The rest is icing on the cake. Which can be added later if people want to publish their creations (something I highly suggest).

    And it's as much a game as it is an attempt to promote creativity. I think I even have a prize this time.

    As far as where to post, I like it here. In fact, I'm not a fan of PDF for reading (I never print anything out and find PDF hard to read). I'm not judging on what the "printed" version looks like at all. Layout is not a criteria.

    So I'd like to accept your entry, and would as it's as complete as I expect a game to be. But it has to be posted here to count. Only graphics are excepted. This is because I can count on people not being able to alter the entries after they're entered here (and if they alter graphics we'll all notice so I'm not worried about that). Just keeps everything fair.

    I'm a stickler for rules. Go figure.

    BTW, anyone can certainly post an updated version of their game here. So if you've posted something, and then revised it, post it again. Just make sure that it's clear which version is the final version (I don't want to have to read through several versions of each game). Another way is to link the parts together in a final post.


    Title: Songs of Distant Spheres Part 3
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 14, 2003, 12:11:22 PM
    Chapter TWO:

    System: Target 15

    Skills and Conflict Resolution

    A word on Conflict.  Clearly, in many RPG’s, the word Conflict brings to the mind a myriad of deadly physical or magical confrontations.  A dividing line is drawn between the mechanics for non-combat skill resolution and combat skill resolution.

    In SODS, Combat is a subset of normal Skill resolution, which, although it requires comment, really works no differently then the use of other skills. If SODS were a war game a large and detailed combat section would be appropriate but SODS is a game about war and the personal conflicts that arise in the course of survival.

    2.1 Coming into Conflict

    Simply put, Conflict occurs whenever a Persona tries to perform an action resisted by another Persona, Nature, or the Persona himself.  A Persona tries to seduce an IID agent; another Persona tries to open the hatch of RIFv that is not hers; a Persona must try and come to grips with the Horrors of War.

    At the GM’s and Personas’ option, actual mechanical resolution of Conflict can be foregone if the situation warrants it.  

    For example: Three RIFvP go out to a bar and get in a friendly game of darts. The person with the best Physique will probably win, unless he or she has had a lot to drink. No real need for rolls. However, if a rival unit’s RIFvP comes up and wants to play, it may be better to slide into Conflict Resolution mode.  

    2.2 The Process of Conflict Resolution

    Definitions of Conflict Resolution

    Action: The exertion of mental or physical energy during the confines of the Moment.
    Moment: An amount of time for all participating Personas and Extras to perform an action or small number of actions. Up to 3 for a Persona and 1 for an Extra.
    Extra: Small Personas who have no purpose other then to act as part of the environment. These are always controlled by the GM.

    The Steps of CR

    1.   Determine who or what is involved in the Conflict
    2.   Each Persona rolls Initiative. All Extras have an Initiative of 1d6.
    3.   The Persona with the Highest Initiative Acts first. Once he or she is done, the Personas and Extras move according to their position in the Initiative ranking.  That is Highest to Lowest.
    4.   Any natural or unnatural events occur. Earthquakes, sprung traps, crashing space ships, and exploding planets all qualify here.
    5.   The moment is over.

    Performing an Action

    As you may have noted the subtext for this system is Target: 15.  That is to say that any roll on a d20, after both positive and negative modifiers have been taken into effect, that is 15 or higher is a success. Period. The lock opens, you find the correct circuit, or you slam your fist into the Malganorn’s head.

    Passive Resistance

    Now a lock, unless controlled by an aware computer, offers only passive resistance when being picked.  The gravity of a 2g planet pulling at your body as you run a marathon again is offering passive resistance yet you are still in Conflict.  In combat, all Personas and Extras have a Passive Defense number that acts as a negative modifier to hit that Character as long as the character is Aware and not Immobile.

    Critical Success and Failure


    A roll of a natural 20 that is still a total of 20+ after all modifiers are added is a Critical Success.  On a critical success, the action is fully effective with no negative repercussions for the Persona who is performing the action.  For example: A Persona trying to jump from one moving train to another gets a critical.  Not only does the jump succeed but also she lands behind the man she was chasing in perfect position to attack him.  The GM should adjudicate all critical successes so that they are a reward but do not the physics of the game too much.

    Also, when a character gets a Critical Success, they gain 1 point of Experience for that skill.


    A roll of natural 1 is always a failure, regardless of the bonuses or the level of skill.  However, since nothing teaches like failure, a Persona gains 1 point of Experience for that skill.

    Giving up an Action

    As mentioned a Persona may take up to 3 Actions in each Moment.  This can be movement, verbalizing ideas, or performing a skill.  It can be all three (one of each). However, because of initiative order, a Persona may give up two of his/her actions to perform one Action out of order.  This is usually to offer Active Resistance against another Persona or Extra to prevent their action from succeeding.  Giving it Up, as it is known, really comes in two flavors: Active Defense and Counter Skill.

    Active Defense

    When someone is trying to break down a door or suddenly a giant space squid is going to eat your RIFv, a Persona may choose to go into Active Defense mode.  In the case of holding back the door, the GM adds the Reacting Player’s Physique (or any appropriate Attribute) to the negative modifiers of the Acting player’s Skill attempt.

    In Combat, Active Defense means a doubling of the Passive Defense score of the Reacting Player.

    Counter Skill

    Jill Longpants is trying to break into the Main Frame AI of Freedom Base. Her goody two shoes twin, Jane Longpants wants to stop her.  Jill uses her Computer Skill and Jane reacts, using her own skill to counter Jill.  Jane makes a skill roll just like Jill and if both succeed, Jill is blocked and a Stalemate ensues.  If both fail nothing happens.  A simple failure of Jill’s allows her to try again on her next action. A stalemate locks both Jill and Jane into another contest.

    This is the essence of counter skill.  If a reacting Persona does NOT have a Skill or Song that can counter the Acting Persona’s Skill (or Song) then they cannot react to it.

    2.3 The Results

    When a Skill succeeds, the result = whatever the successful result of using that skill would be.  A gunshot hits its target. A Picked lock opens. A diffused bomb does not explode.  This is very simple.

    Special Cases: Physical and Mental Harm

    During physical (or metaphysical combat: see Chapter 3) combat the usual intention is to physically harm or subdue an opponent or opponents. Outside of combat, falling off a building, eating 10-year-old cheese, or having a sun go nova right next to you can cause physical harm.


    Taking damage from physical attacks removes health.  Armor absorbs physical attack damage up to its limit.  Anything after that goes through to Health.

    Falling, drowning, and miscellaneous Dangers

    The following is a quick and dirty table for the various types of damage for miscellaneous dangers.  Some kinds of armor or protections may degrade some of this damage as well.

    Table 2.3
    Danger   Damage
    Falling   (1d6 per 3m) x Gravity
    Drowning   1d6 per Moment under water
    Fire / Radiation / Acid   1d6 per Intensity level (1-10)
    Falling off Moving Vehicle or being Struck by one   Speed in KPH – Physique
    Vacuum of Space   2d6 per Moment
    Explosive Force   1d6 per 2 Intensities

    Poisons and Toxins

    When a poison or toxin is introduced into an organic person, a Persona for instance, the strength of the Toxin is measured against the Physique of the target: (Toxin Strength + 1d20 – Physique of Target). So even strong bodies may succumb to some Poisons.  Target number is still 15.  Any anti-toxins present or administered in time add to the Physique of the target.


    Physical damage is healed either by rest, by advanced medical techniques, or by the Song of Life.  Reports that the Song of Life can be used to raise the dead are exaggerated.  No official event has ever been documented stating in fact it can bring back the dead.

    Healing Sanity loss requires Therapy or the use of the Song of Mind’s Rest.

    Loss of Sanity

    Loss of Sanity due to mental harm is much more subtle then physical harm. A dazed look or strange habits can form as Sanity slips away.  Many RIFvP pilots take their last Flight along “The Jet”. The Jet is a six light year in size region of superheated and swirling plasma with a gigantic Black Hole at the center.  It is known as the Riffraff graveyard and pilots start to worry when a friend “Looks like her is getting on the Jet.”

    Up until that final 0 of Sanity, the Player and GM should discuss the loss of sanity and how it affects the Persona’s actions and attitudes.  A penalty or even bonus to certain skills may be added if appropriate.

    2.4 Experience

    A Persona gains a point of Experience just for showing up at a game session, though even this is subject to GM approval. (i.e. if you arrive and hit on the GM’s girlfriend all night to the detriment of the game, do not expect him (or her as the case may be) to give you your standard 1 POE.)

    POE = Points of Experience

    The following are the costs of character improvement, again subject to approval by the GM.

    Table 2.4
    Improvement   Experience
    Untrained Skill   0
    Trained   10
    Expert   15
    Teacher   20
    Master   25
    Improve Ability   20
    Learn New Song   10
    Create New Song   20
    Improve Rank   15
    Pay for RIFv Modification   5

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 14, 2003, 12:14:49 PM

    I have like 8 Chapters to go

    ugh sorry mine is going to be a long one


    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Wormwood on May 14, 2003, 12:36:53 PM

    The interplay of form and force is dangerous and subtle. It provides the underpinnings of the world around us, but is unseen, unfelt, until it washes away. No where is it more apparent than the dark and foreboding world of catchy music.

    In Obscurity, players take on the roles of catchy songs, precisely the songs that become stuck in one's head, requiring more potent songs, or perhaps a power drill, to remove. But player songs are different from your ordinary commercial jingle or top-ten pop song. They are alive, and they are aware, and they have plans for humanity.

    The Debut Album


    A good song has a stupid name. While this isn't always true, it's best to start with one, then people try to get rid of the song all the more, which only feed your power.


    What musical genre do you fall into? Fans of this genre will be especially susceptible to your wiles. On the other hand, this may make other immune. Being a commercial jingle neatly avoids both of those eventualities.


    One is really all you need. Consider the important things, like bringing back bell-bottoms and promoting Volkswagon Beetles.


    Ever notice how some songs just won't stay dead. This is because the Great Composer does not leave her children without some defenses. When all is silent, your song can return from obscurity and become known again. This is referred to as Eruption. Being a fair deity the Great Composer provides each of her children with five Eruptions. Starting songs will have already used one, to start their plans. While not impossible, it is difficult to gain additional Eruptions, and even then only through  great adherence to the ideals of the Great Composer. Of course no one has a clear idea what those are. Well except for chocolate, she seems to like chocolate ...


    The ability of a song to influence people is rated along the three spheres of human experience:

    Blood - passions and pleasure, violence and lust.

    Sweat - exertion, both mental and physical, usually accompanied by purpose.

    Tears - sadness and the other passive emotions of the world.

    A given song has 7 points to divide amongst these three spheres, indicating the degree this song can incite a reaction in that arena.


    Like all parasites a catchy song is nothing without it's hosts. To create a host, specify the following:

    Name - people need some way to refer to each other.

    Potency - the raw talent and effectiveness of the host. Also indicates their resistance to your influences.

    Talent - each host is good at something. How good of course depends on their potency.

    Dominant Sphere - which sphere plays the greatest roll in a host's life?

    Generate one host, of potency 3 as your initial host.

    The Road to the Top

    Getting around and making people do things is an essential element of any plan, but with songs the greatest risk is slipping out of people's minds.

    Getting Stuck:

    To get stuck in someone's mind, you first need to expose them. This usually involves being played or even hummed in their presence. Then you roll equal or above their potency to become stuck. However if you roll a 1, you will slip out of the mind you originally were inside. Hence you must always roll this, even if the person you are going after has potency 1. Also while many people can hear you at a time, only one host can be acquired per playing. If the target is a fan of your affiliation, their potency is considered reduced by one, if they are opposed to it, their potency is considered increased by one.

    Doing the Job:

    Influencing people is not difficult, after all songs can link into the deep well of which most hosts are unaware. Of course it's got some risks associated with it. Under normal circumstance you will roleplay your hosts normally. But if there is a point where you decide to make the host act differently than usual, you must roll to determine if the song can affect them in this manner. This is done by rolling a d6 equal or less than the associated sphere you are using. Hence if you are trying to stop a mugger from mugging a lone woman, you need to roll equal or below your Tears sphere. However to cause the mugger to save that same woman from being hit by a bus, requires rolling equal or below your Sweat sphere. Further making the mugger fall in love with that woman would require rolling equal or below your Blood sphere.

    Note, your sphere is considered one higher if it matches the dominant sphere of the host being used at the time. However, if you roll a 1 on any of these rolls, you slip out of the host, though the change likely was retained.

    Taking Care of Business:

    When a host takes some sort of action, compare the potency of the host to the difficulty of the action. Add a +1 if the action falls within this host's talent. Then either compare with an opposed potency, or look at the table below:

    1 - trivial action
    2 - easy action
    3 - average action
    4 - difficult action
    5 - complex action
    6 - very complex action
    7 - nearly impossible action

    A song can inspire a host to new heights of ability, or depths of failure. Roll above, as if you were influencing the host, subtract your roll from your sphere. Add this value to the potency of the host.

    The Green Room in the Sky

    Songs can dwell in many places, but few of their hangout are as consistent as the Green Room in the Sky, or just the Green. This is where songs can discuss their plans, and try to get help from other songs. It's also the only place you'll find a song when their Eruption has ended and a new one has yet to begin. It's a good place to parlay and make friends, but it's also a good place to make enemies. Which occurs is up to your song.

    Sure it's not long, but I could only devote an hour to the design and writing, so I had to make it fairly short.

         -Mendel S.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: C. Edwards on May 14, 2003, 01:13:11 PM
    Tiki God (

    It's not just a game. It's a sport.

    Beer chugging, role-playing, furniture surfing mayhem for 3 to 5 people.

    What's it all about man?

    Not only are you an all around cool Dude but you're also a trouble-shooter for your Tribe. When you're not Chugging, Grooving, Hanging-Ten, or chasing the islands seemingly endless supply of Virgins you're helping your Tribe iron out life's little kinks. Life on the island has gotten hotter than usual because Pele, goddess of the mighty Volcano, is not well pleased with your people. Only by uniting the Tribe behind one righteous Dude can you gain Pele's notice and convince her to mellow out this most heinous situation. There's only one real problem. Your contemporaries, those other Dudes in the Tribe, are trying to unite the Tribe themselves. So get stoked and grab a tasty brew because battling these bogus posers is bound to make you thirsty. The winner becomes the Tiki God and keeps the Volcano's wrath from putting a real downer on the permanent beach party you call 'life'.

    *Disclaimer: The designer is not liable for injury or property damage incurred as a result of play.

    The following things are required for play:

    -3 to 5 people
    -Beer and lots of it
    -A buttload of six-sided dice (10 dice per Dude should be enough)
    -Some paper and pencils
    -A box of crayons
    -A Hawaiian shirt for each participant, the more hideous the better
    -Some tokens (shells, coasters, old bottle caps, coins, poker chips, or whatever)
    -A timer (stop watch, kitchen timer, or whatever)

    The Big Kahuna
    One of the participants must play the role of The Big Kahuna, the Tribe's wise man. The Big Kahuna is responsible for guiding the Dudes through Trouble-Shooting, standing as judge during every Challenge, keeping track of the Dudes' Groupies, and may end up as the Designated Driver.

    Everyone else takes on the role of a Dude, a surfing, Beer guzzling, beach partying bum and cult icon. A Dude's responsibility is to make sure he has an adequate supply of Beer for Chugging. This includes any Beer that he has The Big Kahuna drink by sacrificing a Virgin.

    Numero Uno
    The first item of business is for all the players to create their Dudes.

    Dude Creation
    -Give the Dude a name (use the Random Name Generator if you're
      having trouble)
    -Vote for the most wicked Hawaiian shirt
    -Rank the Spheres of Power from 1-3
    -Rank the Spheres of Copacetic from 1-3
    -Draw personal Tiki Mask using crayons
    -Choose a Theme Song

    Random Name Generator
    Roll 2d6 for each column in the chart.

      2:  Moon..............2-5:  Dog
      3:  Honey............6-9:  Doggy
      4:  Sand...........10-12:  Dude
      5:  Sun
      6:  Big
      7:  Crazy
      8:  Beach
      9:  Surf
    10:  Beer
    11:  Sky
    12:  Wind

    Wicked Threads
    All participants vote to see which player is wearing the most wicked Hawaiian shirt. The winner of this dubious contest receives one bonus die to use during Dude creation. This die may be added to any one Sphere. You may not vote for yourself. If the vote results in a tie nobody gets the bonus die.

    Spheres of Power
    The Spheres of Power are the most righteous abilities of the Dude. Only the blessed of Pele excel in the Spheres of Power and it is in these Spheres that a Challenge between Dudes takes place.

    Chugging: This is the Sphere that covers the drinking of Beer, and lots of it.
    Grooving: This Sphere covers dancing and all booty shaking.
    Hanging-Ten: This Sphere covers the righteous art of surfing. In Tiki God surfing is simulated using furniture, stair railing, large appliances, and the like. If a player ever breaks their 'board' they lose all their Virgins.

    Spheres of Copacetic
    These Spheres come into play when a Dude needs to mellow out some heinous situation while Trouble-Shooting.

    Zen: This represents a Dudes ability to overcome obstacles by uttering seemingly wise yet incredibly vague gibberish.
    Sand: Whenever the Dude is forced to bust out and split some wigs he starts by kicking Sand in his opponent's face, and then he kicks their ass.
    Coconuts: Yes, Coconuts. The Dude has the amazing ability to solve almost any problem by using this sacred fruit. A Dude's ingenuity knows no limit.

    Tiki Mask
    Each player uses the crayons to draw a Tiki Mask for their Dude. The Tiki Mask is a symbol of individuality and a Dude's dudely skills. The babes dig it too. Optionally, the players may cut out the masks and wear them during play. Be warned, after some Chugging you will most likely have a soggy Tiki.

    Theme Song
    Each Dude needs a Theme Song. It can be anything the player desires. Speed metal, opera, Burmese folk tunes, it's all good. If the player sings their Dude's song during a Grooving or Hanging-Ten Challenge they gain a bonus die on the Challenge Roll. This does not apply to Chugging. Beer is its own reward.

    Island Tour

    The standard unit of measure on the island is the Beer. If it's not measured in Beer the Dude probably can't count it. That said, those possessing less than pure Dudely prowess, a.k.a. poser wannabe's, may want to use fractions of a Beer during any Chugging. This may be a shot, a tumbler, or whatever fraction of a Beer that your mewling little body can handle. Remember that Pele will not be pleased if you drink non-alcoholic beverages during a Chugging.

    These are members of the Tribe that worship the sand the Dude walks on. For each Dude in the game there are 50 Tribe members, 20 of which start off as the Dude's Groupies with the rest going to the Village. The Village is where non-Groupie Tribe members stay until they become Groupies. The Big Kahuna is charged with keeping track of how many Groupies each Dude has and how many Tribe members are in the Village. The Big Kahuna will never tell a player how many Groupies they have, only whether their Dude has more or less than another player's Dude. The players aren't allowed to keep track of Groupies. Dudes don't take notes. The Big Kahuna can also tell a player if there are any Tribe members left in the Village, but he cannot tell the player how many.

    If there is a foundation that Tribal life is built upon it is the unassuming Virgin. A Dude gains a Virgin for every five or six that is rolled by the player on a Trouble Roll and if the player wins a Challenge the Dude gains one Virgin. Sacrificing Virgins to the mighty Pele by tossing them into the Volcano gains the Dude favor in the form of bonus dice that can be used to overcome his rivals. Each Virgin sacrificed is worth one bonus die. A Virgin may also be sacrificed at any time during a player's turn in order to make any of the participants, including The Big Kahuna, chug a Beer. A player may only do this once per turn.

    Get Your Game On
    Play starts with every player rolling a die to see which Dude goes first. Highest roll wins. Roll again if there is a tie. Turn order moves clockwise starting with the highest roller. During their turn a player may have their Dude do one of three things, Trouble-Shoot, Challenge, or Party Hardy.

    Whenever a member of the Tribe has a problem they come to the Dude for help. The Dude just wouldn't be the Dude if he didn't do his best to fix the Trouble. To start the player must decide the potential Groupie Value of the Trouble. The Groupie Value is the number of dice that The Big Kahuna will roll to represent the source of the Trouble that opposes the Dude. Randomly determine the Sphere of Copacetic to be used by rolling a die; 1-2 is Zen, 3-4 is Sand, and 5-6 is Coconuts. The player may alter the result of the roll by sacrificing a Virgin and then picking a Sphere to use. The Big Kahuna then narrates the Trouble situation, which he may invent or take from the Random Trouble Charts, with which the Dude is confronted. The player should have the Dude react to the Trouble that The Big Kahuna presents. The Trouble Roll may be called for by either The Big Kahuna or the Dude at any point that seems appropriate.

    When the Trouble Roll is called for the player rolls a number of dice equal to the rating of the Sphere of Copacetic being used plus any bonus dice if the player chooses to sacrifice any Virgins. Whoever has the highest total wins the Trouble Roll. If the Dude wins he receives a number of Groupies from the Village equal to the total of The Big Kahuna's roll and the Dude gets to narrate the most righteous manner in which he mellows out the most vexing situation. If The Big Kahuna wins the Dude loses a number of Groupies equal to the difference between the two totals. The lost Groupies go back to the Village and The Big Kahuna narrates the Dude's total wipe out. The Dude gains a Virgin for every five or six that the player rolls during the Trouble-Shooting. Only one Trouble Roll is allowed during Trouble-Shooting. After the narration for the Trouble-Roll the Dude’s turn ends and play passes to the left.

    Random Trouble Charts

    Chart A
    1: a wicked monkey has stolen Lana’s wooden comb.
    2: Una really needs some pineapples, which just happen to be guarded by a diabolical water buffalo.
    3: Lola is missing. She was last seen going into a dark, dank cave.
    4: Lelu has been possessed by the spirit of a crazed Industrialist and is
        trying to pave over the beach and put a strip mall in the Village.
    5: A strange chest has washed up on the beach. No one in the Tribe can  
        get the stupid thing open. Perhaps the Dude in his gnarly dudeness
        would deign to give it a try?
    6: The seagulls keep crapping on The Big Kahuna while he is trying to
        bathe. Surely there must be something the Dude can do about this

    Chart B
    1: Several orangutans have started an evil cult in a cave behind a
        waterfall. They keep sacrificing Virgin's that don't belong to them.
        Make those silly primates behave.
    2: Some yuppie from the mainland has parked his yacht in the lagoon.
        Not only is he scaring all the fish away but his incredibly bland polo
        shirts are frightening the children.
    3: Wild dogs have eaten the Beer delivery guy. If this keeps up you might
        run out of Beer. Totally unacceptable, Dude.
    4: Mermaids have been destroying the fishermen's nets. You've got a
        craving for some mahi mahi. What ever will you do?
    5: A lightning strike has started a fire that is moving towards the Village.
        Save your people, Dude!
    6: Some punk that was raised by monkeys has stolen Jane from the
        Village. Bad manners just don't cut it on this island. Besides, Jane
        gives awesome back rubs.

    Chart C
    1: A strange glowing rock has fallen from the sky and the Tribe has
        started to worship it. Hey! You and the Volcano are the only things on
        this island worthy of worship.
    2: Pirates from the far side of the island are intercepting the Beer
        deliveries. Need I say more?
    3: Some lame-ass has set up a booth on the beach selling 'Tiki God' shirts
        and merchandise. All the babes have started hanging out there and are
        actually trading Beer for the crap the booth guy is selling. The men of
        the Tribe beseech you to take care of business.
    4: The Big Kahuna pulled a groin muscle while playing beach volleyball.
        He needs you to go find him a special herb with soothing powers that
        only grows on a small atoll neighboring the island. That would be the
        atoll surrounded by man-eating sharks.
    5: A group of tourists is taking pictures, asking stupid questions, and just
        being damn annoying.  The Tribe wants you to do something about it.
    6: A massive python has swallowed The Big Kahuna's wife. It wouldn't be
        a big deal but she's the one that orders the Beer.

    Dudes compete with each other in order to show off their awesome skills and impress the masses. The player declares a Challenge and the opposing player chooses the Sphere of Power to be challenged. The challenger then has the opportunity to add another Sphere of Power to the Challenge by sacrificing a Virgin. Each player then writes down how many Virgins they want to sacrifice for bonus dice on a slip of paper and hands it to The Big Kahuna for safekeeping. The players then perform the Challenge, either simultaneously or with the challenging player going first. That part is left for The Big Kahuna to decide. Players have twenty seconds to show their stuff, which is why The Big Kahuna needs a timer. In a Challenge that involves multiple Spheres all actions are combined into one big Challenge. For example, if the Challenge involves Chugging and Hanging-Ten the players must swill their beer while they are surfing.

    After the Challenge is performed The Big Kahuna votes for the most impressive display and that player receives a bonus die for the Challenge Roll. Singing your Theme Song during a Challenge that doesn't involve Chugging also grants a bonus die. Beer is it's own reward. Each player then makes a Challenge Roll with dice equal to the total of their ratings in the Spheres of Power that were involved in the Challenge and any bonus dice from sacrificing Virgins or singing a Theme Song. The Dude of the player that rolls the highest total wins the Challenge. The winning player takes from the loser a number of Groupies equal to the difference between the two totals. The winner cannot gain more Groupies than the loser possesses. If a player passes on a Challenge they lose a Virgin and the challenging player rolls two dice to see how many Groupies they take from the passing player.
    In a Chugging only Challenge the first player to finish their Beer gets the bonus die. If it’s too close to call The Big Kahuna decides who gets the bonus die based upon factors such as spillage, an impressive belch afterwards, etc.

    Party Hardy
    Sometimes a Dude just wants to party. In such a situation the player chooses another player's Dude to lure Groupies from by inviting them to a beach party. Then the player starts the party by Chugging at least one Beer. Each Beer the player chugs grants one die for the Party Roll. The player may also gain bonus dice by sacrificing Virgins. The player then rolls all the dice and the total represents how many followers that the partying Dude steals away from the target Dude.

    The End
    There are several ways for the game to end:

    - Every time that a player sacrifices a Virgin in order to have The Big Kahuna chug some Beer there is a chance that Pele will come to The Big Kahuna in a vision. The Big Kahuna rolls three dice and if the total rolled is fifteen or higher then Pele has come to The Big Kahuna and declared that the Dude with the most Groupies has pleased her enough to keep her from annihilating the Tribe. That Dude is declared the Tiki God and the Tribe rejoices.

    - If any Blood is spilled by the participants during the game, on purpose or by accident, Pele's anger at the stupidity of the Tribe causes the Volcano to spew fiery death down upon the island and the Tribe perishes to cries of "Bummer, Dude!". Self-mutilation does not count and will piss Pele off enough that she will demand the sacrifice of the offending Dude to the Volcano. In a two Dude game the remaining Dude is declared the Tiki God.

    - If any of the participants pass out due to inebriation Pele is well pleased by the adherence to her dogma and the island is safe until some idiot pisses her off again. Game over.

    - The first Dude to have two-thirds of the Tribe as Groupies gains Pele's favor and has saved the island. He is declared the Tiki God, savior of the Tribe and most righteous Dude to ever set foot on sand.

    Title: My entry: "Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Sphe
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:35:28 PM
    Damn. Just found out about this yesterday. Thank goodness I finished Signature.

    NOW! Witness the awesome power of my Signature cooking style!
    (Not bad for 4 hours and 30 mins work, if I may toot my own horn.)
    Volcanoes and Glaciers: Bloodsong of the Spheres


    Social Contract
        Death and Dying
        Tone Bonus
        Carry-over Traits

    The Setting
        Player Direction
            Sample Character Goals
        Tech Level
        Sample Signatures

    The System
        Time Units
            What is a Trait?
        Character Generation: The Signature Trait
        Action Resolution
        Using/Gaining/Changing/Losing Traits
        Wild Points
            Using Wild Points
            Recovering Wild Points
        Setting Mechanics

    For the Guide: Making Adventures
        The First Rule
        Challenges and Relative Difficulty
        Carry-over Traits: NPCs, Locations, and Items

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers: Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:37:21 PM
    Social Contract

    Game Tone
        Death and Dying
        Tone Bonus
        Carry-over Traits

    Before beginning, the Guide(s) and the players should decide what and how the group is going to play: how long and how frequently the group meets, who brings the food and drinks, what kinds of behavior are acceptable and which aren't -- basically what is expected of everyone socially. This is called a Social Contract in gaming lingo.

    Death and Dying

    1 Success indicates a minor distraction, sickness, or degree of healing; for example, throwing sand in someone's eyes, catching a cold, or curing a cold.

    2 Successes indicates a major wound, sickness, or degree of healing; for example, a knife wound, catching the flu (very serious in a world without antibiotics), or being cured of the flu.

    3 Successes indicates death, total incapitation, or ressurection.

    Tone Bonus

    The Tone Bonus is a modifier that gives bonuses to particular actions that help define the tone of the game. Examples include, Funny, Cunning, and Violent. Generally, there will be  only one Tone Bonus per game.

    The Tone Bonus for "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is Cunning.

    Carry-over Traits

    Carry-over Traits carry over from game session to game session. One example are relationships the character has, like Sickly Aunt 2, etc. Another are the NPCs the Guide controls. The fewer Carry-over Traits a game has, the more episodic it is.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: deadpanbob on May 14, 2003, 02:38:54 PM
    Quote from: C. Edwards

    If there is a foundation that Tribal life is built upon it is the unassuming Virgin. A Dude gains a Virgin for every five or six that is rolled by the player on a Trouble Roll and if the player wins a Challenge the Dude gains one Virgin. Sacrificing Virgins to the mighty Pele by tossing them into the Volcano gains the Dude favor in the form of bonus dice that can be used to overcome his rivals. Each Virgin sacrificed is worth one bonus die. A Virgin may also be sacrificed at any time during a player's turn in order to make any of the participants, including The Big Kahuna, chug a Beer. A player may only do this once per turn.

    Wow, I may have to bow out.  Any game that incorporates Virgins as a game mechanic is going to own the crucial 13 to 24 year old male audience - a key to market dominance!  Well done!



    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:39:18 PM
    The Setting
        Player Direction
            Sample Character Goals
        Tech Level
        Plot Hooks
        Sample Signatures



    Spheres are alternate multiverses with copies of the Nine Worlds in various states of development.

    The Nine Worlds

    Yggdrasil the World Tree

    The Norse world tree connects all the nine worlds. It has roots in three: Asgard, Niflheim, and the realm of the Frost Giants. An eagle sits in the branches of the tree; between its eyes perches a hawk. A squirrel called Ratatosk scurries between the eagle and Nidhogg, the dragon which gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil in Niflheim, carrying messages. There are four stags running in the branches, Heidrun the goat and Eikthyrmir the hart, all eating leaves of the tree. The tree is tended by the Norns at Urd's well under one of the roots, who pour water over it, keeping its bark white.

    Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge

    Bifrost connects Midgard to Asgard. Every day the Aesir travel over Bifrost to Urd's well to hold counse1 -- except for Thor who must wade through rivers instead.. The red of the rainbow bridge is the flames which keep those who are unworthy from gaining entry into Asgard. The Aesir Heimdall guards the bridge at the point it reaches Asgard.

    Asgard Realm of the Gods

    Asgard is the home the ruling gods, the Aesir.

    Following the creation of Midgard, the gods built their temples on Iðavelli, the shining plain. Here is Odin and Saga's Sokkvabekk, Odin's Valhalla with its 540 doors in Gladheim, Odin's hall Valaskjalf that houses the throne from which he looks over all the worlds, Thor's Thrudheim where his hall Bilskirnir stands with its 540 rooms; Ull's Ydal's plains; Freya's Folkvang and her hall Sessruminir; Skadi's Thrymheim; Baldr's Breidablik; Heimdall's Himinbjorg which stands at the edge of Asgard by Bifrost;  Forseti's Glitnir; Njord's Noatun by the sea; Frigg's Fensalir and Vidar's land called Vidi.

    Midgard Realm of Mankind

    Midgard, whose name means "middle garden" or "middle earth", is the home of humanity.

    Vanaheim Home of the Vanir

    Vanaheim is home of the Vanir, allies of the Aesir. Little is known of it, save thatVanaheim will not be affected by Ragnarok.

    Alfheim Home of the Light Elves

    Alfheim is home to the Light Elves, who are ruled by the god Frey.

    Niflheim World of Ice

    Niflheim is a cold, unforgiving realm where the power of the Glacier is strongest in the Nine Worlds.It is home to the Frost Giants

    Muspelheim World of Fire

    Niflheim is a burning, chaotic realm where the power of the Volcano is strongest in the Nine Worlds. It is home to the Fire Giants, who are ruled by Surtur.

    Jotunheim Home of Giants

    Jotunheim is a barbaric realm, home to the enemies of the Aesir and Vanir, the Giants.

    Nidavellir Home of the Dwarves

    Nidavellir is the underground home of the Dwarves, or Svartalfs.

    Hel Land of the Dead

    Hel is the land where the dead go to rest after dying. It is not a place of torment, but of quietude.

    Player Direction

    All PCs come from the same Sphere, and should share similar goals, whether it be exploring the Spheres to find new lands to colonize, open up trade routes, or find targets for raids.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers: Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:40:43 PM

    All Spheres have the same basic timeline, but some Spheres may be behind or ahead of others relative to the timeline.

    Also, there may divergences in key events in the timeline of a particular Sphere relative to the others.

    Years 1-4,000: The Creation of the World

    In the beginning there was the void, Ginnungagap. In Niflheim was a spring called Hvergelmir from which the Elivagar, the eleven rivers (Svol, Gunnthra, Fiorm, Fimbulthul, Slidr, Hrid, Sylg, Ylg, Vid, Leiptr, and Gioll) flowed. The Elivargar froze layer upon layer until it filled in the northerly portion of the gap, while the southern portion was being filled by sparks and lava from Muspelheim.

    This caused part of the Elivagar to melt forming the figures Ymir the primeval giant and the cow Audhumla, fed from licking the salty ice. The cow's milk was Ymir's food.

    While Ymir slept his under arm sweat begat two frost giants, one male one female, while his two legs begat another male. The cow's incessant licking formed the god Buri. He had a son named Bor who was the father of Odin, Vili, and Ve, who all decided to kill poor Ymir. Ymir's blood caused a flood which killed all of the frost giants except for two, Bergelmir and his wife, who escaped the deluge in their boat.

    Odin, Vili, and Ve put Ymir's corpse into the middle of Ginnungagap and created the earth and sky from it. They also created the stars, sun, and moon from sparks coming out of Muspelheim.

    Years 4,000-8,000:The Time of Legends

    Finally, the brothers happened upon two logs lying on the beach and created the first two humans Ask, whose name means ash, and Embla, whose name means elm, from them.

    In this time, the gods walked the earth, fighting giants and interacting with humans.

    Years 8,000-12,000: The Time of Man

    The gods withdraw from openly walking the earth, and mighty heroes arise, fighting monsters and leading the people.

    Year 12,000: Ragnarok

    Year 12,000+: New Midgard

    The remaining two humans walk among on the new earth, which they call New Midgard, and repopulate it. The magic of bloodsong is discovered and other Spheres are discovered along with it.

    Tech Level

    Technology in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is similar to that of Earth's Dark Age Norse. Iron is made into weapons and chain mail. Sailing is advanced, but uses solar compasses instead of magnetic ones. In a solar compass, the Sun's shadow is traced against a curving line on a sundial, and North is calculated against the position of the shadow.

    The only magic in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is bloodsong. Bloodsong involves carving a runestaff, then cutting oneself and smearing the blood on the runes of the staff. One then sings a bloodsong to create the magic.

    Title: Volcaneos and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:41:58 PM
    Time Units

    Action: A single action taken by a character.
    Scene: A collection of Actions all in the same place.
    Adventure: A collection of Scenes all involving the same characters.
    Campaign: A collection of Adventures all centered around a single plot.

    Plot Hooks

    Sample Signatures

    Generally speaking, a Signature in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is comprised of two parts: a Profession and a Race. So one character might be a Warrior Aesirdottir, another a Bard Midgardson, and so on.



    Warriors specialize in hand to hand combat with shield and one-handed weapon, such as a sword or axe. Generally speaking, Warriors lack the discipline to fight in organized groups -- fighting tends to turn into a mass brawl. However, Warriors are usually good leaders and decent sailors.


    Bards specializes in remembering, learning and telling sagas. They are usually excellent at bloodsong, and are good diplomats.


    Explorers specialize in exploring new lands and Spheres. They are usually good and sailing and bloodsong, and are usally decent leaders and diplomats.


    Traders specialize in opening up new trade routes to other Spheres and lands. They are usually excellent leaders and diplomats, and good at sailing and bloodsong.


    Nobles are the leaders of society. They are good at leading, of course, as well as diplomacy, and are usually well-off.


    Priest represent the gods to mankind. They are usually good at diplomacy and leading, as well as being decent at bloodsong.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:43:57 PM

    Race indicates which bloodline is strongest in a character. The suffic -son delineanates a man, while -dottir, delineates a woman.


    Aesirsons/Aesirdottirs are mainly descended from the Aesir. They are strong and good fighters.


    Vanirson/Vanirdottir are mainly descended from the Vanir. They are beautiful and skilled at bloodsong.


    Midgardson/Midgarddottir are mainly descended from humans. They are resourceful and cunning.


    Jotunson/Jotundottir are mainly descended from the Jotuns. They are big and tough.


    Alfson/Alf dottir are mainly descended from the Alfs. They are beautiful and agile.


    Svartalfson/Svartalfdottir are mainly descended from the Svartalfs. They are tough and excellent craftsmen.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:45:25 PM

    What is a Trait?

    A Trait is literally anything that can be used to describe a character, or something associated with a character. For example, Strong, Slow, Loves Wife, Magic Sword, Shield Maiden ...pretty much anything.

    Character Generation: The Signature Trait

    To generate a character, the character's player simply comes up with a Siganture Trait. The Signature Trait is
    a description of a PC in a nutshell. For example, "Fierce Warrior Midgardson."

    Extra Starting Traits

    There are several starting Traits that both Guide and Players may set when creating their characters (Players) and settings (Guide.) They are listed below.

    Blood and Song

    Blood is used to power bloodsong. It goes from 0 to 5. Default is 1. Song is used to control bloodsong. It goes from 0 to 3. Default is 1. Upon creation, a character has 5 points to distribute among Blood and Song.


    Sphere is a Trait describing a particular Sphere. It has three sub-Traits: Volcano, Glacier and Prosperity. When creating a Sphere, the creator receives 6 points to distribute among the three sub-Traits.

    Volcano indicates how chaotic and changeable a Sphere is. It goes from 0 to 3.

    Glacier indicates how static and restistant to change a Sphere is. It goes from 0 to 3.

    Prosperity indicates how well-off characters in a particular Sphere are. It goes from 0 to 6. 0 Prosperity is equal to Cambodia under Pol Pot; 3 Prosperity is peaceful but not rich, and 6 Prosperity is paradisical.

    If Volcano and Glacier are both tied, their rating indicates how close the Sphere is to Ragnarok. 0 indicates Creation, 1 Time of Legends, 2 Time of Man, and 3 imminent Ragnarok.

    All PCs come from the same Sphere. Thus, all Players must agree on the sub-Traits of their Sphere upon creation.


    Scale is used in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" to separate the various levels of power in characters. The scales are:

    Ordinary: 0

    Ordinary scale is that of an ordinary character, such as a farmer.

    Heroic: +1

    Heroic scale is that of a skilled character, such as a well-known leader.

    Epic: +2

    Epic is the default scale in "volcanoes and Glaciers." It designates heroes who are reknowned throughout their home Sphere.

    Godly: +3

    Godly scale is that of the gods, such as Thor or Loki.

    Each level of Scale automatically succeeds versus the level below it and automatically fails versus the level above it. For example, Heroic beats Ordinary, while Epic beats Heroic.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:46:29 PM
    Action Resolution

    1. Action
    The player describes the action, and the Guide finds the appropriate Trait. If there is more than one appropriate Trait, the Guide takes the highest.

    The Guide modifies the Trait as follows.
        The Guide assigns a modifier of -3 to +2 depending on how plausible the action is.
        2.2 Tone Bonus
        The Guide assigns a bonus of +1 to +3 if the action follows the game's Tone Bonus. Generally, there will be  only one Tone Bonus per game.
        2.3 Wild Point Bonus
        The player may assign a bonus of up to +3 to his action, if the description is wild enough, and the player
    spends Wild Points equal to the bonus desired.

    3. Resolution
    The modified number of points is the degree of success. 0 is failure, 1 is minor success, 2 is major success, and
    3 is complete and total success. The modified degree of success may not be lower than 0 or higher than +3.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:47:54 PM
    Using/Gaining/Changing/Losing Traits
    Describe what happens in the gameworld. The Guide then determines which Traits the action is governed by. For example:

        * a simple use of a Trait: "I swing my sword at the guard's neck!" (using the Swordsman Trait)
        * gaining a new Trait: "I remember my youth as a pick-pokcet on the streets of Cairo." (gain the Pick-Pocket Trait.)
        * introducing a new character: "This is my friend, Arthur." (gain the Trait "Arthur, Friend.")
        * changing a Trait: "Instead of killing me, the poison alters my mind, giving me uncontrollable visions."(Exchange the Trait "Poisoned" for the Trait "Uncontrollable Visions.")
        * losing a Trait: "After a month's bedrest, I find that my wound has completely healed." (losing the Trait"Wounded.)

    The Guide then uses the Action Resolution mechanics to determine how successful the action was.

    Wild Points

    Wild Points determine how cinematic a game is. The more Wild Points that can be spent, the more cinematic the game.

    Volcanoes and Glaciers realism is set at Cinematic, with a maximum of 2 Wild Points spent at one time and 5 Wild Points to begin with.

    Using Wild Points
    Wild Points can be spent to do a number of things, all of which requires a colorful description of how the Wild
    Points are used.

    Give a new Trait. The Trait has a rating equal to the number of Wild Points spent.

    Reduce an existing Trait. The Trait is reduced by a number equal to  the number of Wild Points spent.

    Modify an action.  The action is then modified by an amount equal to the number of Wild Points spent.

    Change a Trait: This costs 1 Wild Point. The Trait is then changed to another Trait of equal rating.

    Recovering Wild Points

    Recovering Wild Points will differ from game to game; however, the default is that a number of Wild Points equal to the starting amount is recovered after each Scene if those Wild Points were not spent to reduce,
    change or give a Trait -- ie, only those Wild Points spent modifiying an action recover.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:49:08 PM
    Setting Mechanics

    Mechanics in "Volcanoes and Glaciers" is the same as in any Signature game, except for singing Bloodsongs.

    Bloodsongs allow a character to move between Spheres and adjust the rules which govern those Sphere in the general area of the character. This basically means that the character can "bend" physical laws and induce good or bad luck with a Bloodsong.

    Singing a Bloodsong involves two Traits, Blood and Song. First, the Player spends Blood points. The exact amount depends on how powerful the bloodsong. Examples are listed below.

    Easy: 1
    Challenging: 2
    Difficult: 3

    Bloodsong of Bifrost: Open a gate between Spheres: 3

    Bloodsong of the Sagas: Add +1 Success to all local friendly characters in battle: 2

    Bloodsong of  Odin's Wisdom: Adjust the local values of Volcano and Glacier: 1 per point up or down

    Bloodsong of Thor: Add +1 Success to a single character's checks in battle: 1

    Bloodsong of Home :Make the local values of Volcano and Glacier same as the Bloodsinger's home Sphere: 1

    "Local" means enough to accomodate a sailing ship, roughly a 100-foot sphere.

    Then, the Player makes a Action Resolution check against his Song Trait. If the number of Successes is at least equal to the Blood points spent, the Action succeeds. If not, the Player must spend extra Blood points equal to the difference between the Blood points spent and the number of Successes.

    If  a character ever reaches 0 Blood points, he will die by the end of the Scene.

    Blood points are recovered at the rate of 1 per day, 2 per day if the character mainly rests during the day.

    Increasing Maximum Blood points

    The only way to increase one's maximum Blood points is to nail oneself upside down to a large tree and wait there without food or water for nine days. This drains one's Blood points to zero by the ninth day. At the end of the ordeal, the player makes an Action Resolution check against his Blood Trait. If it -fails-, the character's Blood Trait increases by one, to a maximum of 5.

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 14, 2003, 02:50:14 PM
    The Guide

    Making Adventures
        The First Rule
        Challenges and Relative Difficulty
        Carry-over Traits: NPCs, Locations, and Items

    The Guide controls the NPCs, as well as the setting and any other obstacles the PCs might encounter.

    The First Rule:  When in doubt of whether or not to allow something, allow it.

    Challenge and Difficulty: A Challenge is a challenge to the PCs, either from an NPC,  the environment, or anything else that may oppose the PCs. Each part of a Challenge (a trap, an obstacle, etc.) has an associated
    Difficulty. Each character Tests his relevant Trait versus that part's Difficulty. NPCs are simply given Signature Traits with their ranks being the Difficulty.

    Major Villain: Highest PC Traits
    Villain Team Member: PC Trait
    Major Obstacle: PC Trait
    Minor Obstacle: PC Trait -1
    Minion: PC Trait -2

    Carry-over Traits: NPCs, Locations, and Items

    Carry-over Traits are Traits that give continuity to a campaign (a series of adventures.) These include NPCs (e.g., the Dark Lord), important locations (e.g., the Dark Lord's tower), and important items (e.g., the sword fated to kill the Dark Lord.)

    Carry-over Traits are just like a character's Traits, except that they are controlled by the Guide.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 14, 2003, 04:23:53 PM
    Sign in Stranger
    formerly: Song of the blood moon.

    Overview of the Game
    Play begins after the "disease" afflicting humanity has been cured.   The cause was a biological entity that has formed a mutualistic relationship with the space-faring species in this sector of the galaxy.  There had been a quarantine on earth, which was broken by the Sxosians while visiting their dolphin trading partners.  Humans had been observed to be difficult to communicate with, so official first contact had been delayed until the species developed further.  In contrition for their error, the Sxosians developed a treatment which allows exposure to the entity to result in a joining rather than destruction of the human cells.  Humans who undergo this treatment may join the interstellar community.

    The party

    Your characters are humans who have taken the new blood, they have the entity in their body.  The quarantine on earth continues--now with the awareness of the human community--all those who leave may never return.  They begin on earth's moon, Luna, where they decide together what assignment they will take in a distant land.  The spacefaring species are sympathetic to humanity's plight and offer jobs and land to settle in their worlds.  Humans have many obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is their innocence of other sentient species and horror of the unknown.  

    Character creation:
    Each player creates a character.  Do so by answering a string of questions:

    What was your life like on Earth?
    What brought you here?
    What are you like?

    Skills and traits will be chosen that relate to the answers given.  The group of players should answer the questions one at a time, and share their responses with the group before moving on to the next.  Players are encouraged to find connections between their characters and bounce ideas off of one another.

    World Creation and Player Spheres of Influence
    Once the characters have been begun, each player begins the process of populating the galaxy by creating one sentien alien species, and one planet, occupied by this species.  Creation is brief.  For each species, a pair of attributes is chosen; one of which is alluring to humans, the other which is found to be repulsive.  After the pair of attributes, write a short physical description of the species.

    Species: Sxosians
    Attributes: Song/Smell
    Description: Light-blue many limbed liquid breathers.

    The language and voice of Sxosians is experiences as musical, as a kind of song by most humans, while the personal smell of Sxosians as is unsettling or repugnant.  

    For the planet, choose a name, the type of habitat and a size.

    Planet: Sxosia
    Habitat: Aqueous
    Size: Big

    Create the Assignments
    Each player should write a short, cryptic statement below the Planet information.  Half the statement should make sense, half be nonsense.

    Planet: Sxosia...
    Assignment: Raise green lilliu

    Now the players should take this information and look it over together in character.  Discuss the perceived advantages and disadvantages of each world, species and assigment.  Come to a group decision about the best place for the group to begin their new lives.  

    When a world has been chosen, cities are created and whether other species also live there is decided. The larger the world, the more likely it is to have multiple species present.  

    Modes and Spheres
    Each species has unique ways of doing things and having their needs met.  The processes have been grouped into several overarching divisions in this game called Modes.  The Modes are:

    Communication * Sustenance * Shelter * Reproduction * Social Organization * Transportation * Trade * Culture

    Once the planet has been chosen, each player chooses one or two Modes to fall within their Sphere of Influence.    The number will depend on the number of players, and the preference of the group.  A new Sphere sheet, the Communal Sphere, may be begun at this time.  Any Modes not chosen should be placed on this sheet. All the players may contribute to these modes. It is recommended that Culture be communal.  Indicate next to each mode, which species it refers to, and much space should be left open below each Mode.

    Getting Ready to Leave: skills, traits, and song points
    Before leaving Luna, to settle this unknown (to the humans) world that has been chosen, the characters may choose to receive training in skills they believe will be useful to them in their new lives.  These skills join the skills developed on Earth.  2-3 Personal Traits should be written below the answer to the question "What are you like?", now that the player has had a chance to get to know the character.  These will be added to in time.

    On the character sheet, below the answer to the question: "What brought you here?", information about the various species the character comes into contact with will be written.  This is where the pair of attributes comes into play.

    song O O O O O O smell
    summer with whales      ________________
    __________________   ________________
    __________________   ________________

    6 circles are drawn between the two attributes.  Below are spaces for six memories of the human to be written. A separate such entry will be made for each species.  The memories signify connections made to the character's own life that give them understanding for and connection with each alien species. A circle is filled in for each connection made, and increases the character's "song" attribute score by 1, and decrease their "smell" score by 1.  Greater connection helps the character understand the aliens better and unravel the mysteries of the strange world about them.  Characters with 0 "song" and maximum "smell", panic automatically in the presence of that alien species.  And humans with low song scores react with distrust to those who have high level scores.  

    What Comes Next
    The game revolves around the characters establishing themselves in their new home, exploring the strange environment, and learning about their host species.  The players create elements of the Modes and Species in their Spheres, by posing enigmas of behaviour and process for the other players. These enigmas are solved by the players through the actions and interpretations of their characters.  As the characters develop, more material comes available for the characters to bridge the gap between the unfathomable activity surrounding them, and their own lives.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 14, 2003, 08:17:36 PM
    Greetings All,

    I've tried to make this as complete as possible, while remaining minimalist with the rules.  Hopefully this has worked well enough to give a general idea of the direction intended for the game to take.  If not take note that there is/will be much more detail available in the PDF ranging from extended background information, graphics, maps, and hidden messages.  No, really!  Just try reading some place names sdrawkcab.  :)

    But for now here's the Iron Game Chef quick play version sans the fluffy goodness, which is just a distraction from the brilliant black and white words that tell you what is really going on.  Well, in the game world at any rate.

    Kind Regards,

    Chris "Kester Pelagius" Morgan


    Synopsis:  Players in Song of the Blood Spheres will belong to one of three alliance groups:  the Draconic Coalition, Necromancer's Guild, or Monster's Free Union.  These factions represent the ruling tripartite native groups living in the world of They (pronounced: th AE) and have nothing to do with the actual characters.  Characters will be archetypal heroes summoned to the present age through the mists of time; the alliances are a means to add intrigue to the game when playing with larger groups.

    While each faction may have disparate end-goals they all find themselves in the same position, they need Heroes.  Of course there haven't been any heroes in Ubel They for hundreds of generations, which means that each group has to concentrate their resources to summon a hero from the mists of space and time.

    Goals: Explore the world, find at least one of the two Blood Spheres, learn how to active them, defeat Myxomatosis, and gain control of the Meliq Sphere magical artifact.

    Note that these are introductory goals.  Banishing Myxomatosis isn't covered here, nor is the natures of the remaining 7 spheres of Riule, though any of these can be considered part of a larger meta plot if desired.  However, as presented, this is a simple game intended for veteran gamers.  It is presumed the players will have their own basic gaming materials and know what those materials are.


    Ubel They: Song of the Blood Spheres

    Background: In the age of Godhr, when the gods yet walked the earth, the Wolf Clans of Ombrage were united under the banner of the High Chiefs of Nimrud.  For thousands of years they served as protectors and guardians of the clan lands through their High Chiefs.  These High Chiefs were appointed by each clan to serve a year and a day.  By all accounts they were just, their councilors wise, and their Battle Wizards renowned across the three continents.  Yet they feared the invaders from across the sea, the tamers of the wind whose crimson sails too often were sighted near their shores.  Such was the age of Vindr.

    Then the Sphere of Meliq, one of the ten Blood Spheres of Riule, magical orbs long thought lost, was rediscovered.  Found hidden in ruins deep within the forest Ancien the sphere was brought to Nimrud, where news of its discovery quickly spread throughout the land.  All clans hailed this event as an omen signaling the start of a new era of prosperity and peace.  For with the Sphere of Meliq the clan Chiefs, and their wise councilors, hoped to return the land to its ancient glory and see the light of the Riule gods once more returned to the world.  So began the Wolf Age.

         Alas, for all its promise, the Wolf Age was short lived.  And never would the race of men be the same again, for with its closing the rule of the clan chiefs ended and their ancestral lands, left in chaos, were over run with monstrous beasts.  Creatures of nightmare roamed the countryside, vampire bandits preyed upon unwary travelers, and, worst of all, the Sphere of Meliq had been captured by the race of cold-blooded saurian that would become reviled throughout the three continents as the Slave-lords.  So began the Draconian ascendancy.

         And so it has remained until recently when, with an earth shaking noise, particularly nasty wound gash opened in the sky above Mt. Mordrag, a long dormant volcano, and dripped forth Myxomatosis.  A big, ugly, bad arse evil beastie that would make cthonian ealdor gods quake in their dank dark lairs.  Worse, Myxomatosis has stolen the sphere of Meliq and fanned the flames of the long dormant volcano.  Yes, Myxomatosis has come to They, and nothing has been the same since!  Enter the heroes.

    The Heroes

    All Heroes have three Traits, in addition to their Hero Factor; these Traits are: Courage, Will, and Strength.  Each player has exactly 9 attribute points to distribute between these Traits.  There is only one rule: no Trait may ever go above 6.  Whoever rolls the Knight Templar is Game Master for the duration of the game session.  Also, prior to play, each player should choose an affiliation with one of the three given groups.  (More on this later.)

    Courage: A measure of bravery, valor, and daring; very important for determining success of Heroic Actions.

    Will:  Every Hero has one, and thank goodness for it!  If not for Will most Heroes would all too easily succumb to the wiles of Witches and fall prey to every bargain basement Succubus.

    Strength:  This trait measures brawn, vigor, and the potency of a Hero's physical attributes.

    Movement (Moves):  Movement is die based, is different for each character depending upon a number of variables, and yet is always based upon three standard character descriptors.   These are: Slow-moving (D4), Walking (D6), Riding (D8).  Moves are in hex or squares.

    Hero Points:  Every character will have a number of Hero Points, generated by random die roll, which the players may use to determine skill and ability rank during character creation.  Any left over HP become recorded on the character sheet as Hero Factor.

    Hero Factor:  Hero Factor represents the number of dice that a player may roll "above and beyond" their current LOAD level.  Be warned, using HF is costly for HF is very hard to accumulate during play.  In fact it's almost impossible to accumulate any HF.

    Character Creation

    Prior to actual play everyone will need to determine his or her Heroic character.  To do this take 2D6 and roll on the chart below.  For those who read the rules, and you know who you are, warm the dice up.  Hope you get what you rolled for!

      2. Knight
      3. Paladin
      4. Warrior Crusader
      5. Blade Dancer
      6. Sword Mistress
      7. Warrior
      8. Norseman Berserker
      9. Knight Templar (Knight of Justice)
    10. Sword Dancer
    11. Amazon
    12. Barbarian

    Cast of Characters


    Hero Points: D6+3

    Description: At a glance the Amazon appears to be nothing more exotic than a female Barbarian warrior, however a closer examination reveals them to be far more supple of limb and agile of body.

    Amazons are skilled in Archery, Staff Fighting, and Blades.


    Hero Points: 3D4+1

    Description: The Barbarian character is an archetypal muscle bound fighter.  They are Warriors by trade, making Barbarians a true force of nature, one that relies upon brawn and determination to get the job done.

    Barbarians have the following abilities: Drinking Grog, Hitting and Smashing, Intimidation, and Sword Fighting.

    Blade Dancer

    Hero Points: D4+2

    Description: A specialist in feats of daring do using blades, specifically knives and daggers.  The downside is that Blade Dancers may not wear armor.  In fact the less the Blade Dancer wears the better since freedom of movement is key to their craft.

    Blade Dancers are skilled in Acrobatic Twirling, Blades, and Combat Dancing.


    Hero Points: D8

    Description: Warriors of Noble Birth, the Knight comes with a Charger and has the ability to attract a squire.

    The Knight is skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, and Honor.

    Knight Templar (Knight of Justice)

    Hero Points: 3D6

    Description:   Just like the Knight and Paladin, only with the added bonus that whoever rolls this character gets to be Game Master.  If you are reading this because you have rolled the Knight Templar be aware that this is a unique character.  There may only be one Knight Templar in any game.  On the off chance you would rather not be Game Master find out who would, if more than one player steps forward choose a method to randomly choose who gets the Knight Templar.  This can be a simple coin toss, nearest guess of a number you are thinking about, or whatever.

    The Knight Templar is skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, Honor, and have the special function of Arbitration.

    Norseman Berserker

    Hero Points: 2D4+2

    Description: Intrepid explorers, mighty warriors, and sometimes hot tempered when pressed; Norseman are fabled human warriors with many interesting skills.

    Norseman Berserkers have the following skills and abilities: Blades, Battle Rage, and ??.


    Hero Points: D8+2

    Description: Noble Holy Warriors, Paladin's are knightly champions who have vowed to rid the world of evil and slay all monsters they encounter.  See their shiny armor and tremble ye creatures of villainy!

    Paladins are skilled in Swordsmanship, Riding, Moving in Armor, Tournament Combat, Honor, Quelling Evil, and Monster Slaying.

    Sword Dancer

    Hero Points: D4+2

    Description: Agile and dexterous, lithe and flexible, these are but a few words used to describe what it take to be a Sword Dancer.  Deadly, a simple word, but one which all who have met Sword Dancers in combat agree they are.

    Sword Dancers are skilled in Acrobatic Twirling, Sword Fighting, and Combat Dancing.

    Sword Mistress

    Hero Points: D6+2

    Description: The Sword Mistress was a much feared warrior whose exploits were feared and respected throughout the lands of men.  It was said that maidens were enrolled in schools from an early age in the hope that they might one day achieve level of skill to earn them a place within the ranks of the Sisterhood of Steel, and thus earn the noble rank of Sword Mistress.  Alas few of the maidens who trained in sword fighting ever were accepted into the elite Sisterhood of Steel, yet despite their orders fall in the great war their orders memory lives on well into these darker days of the Age of Ubel They.

    The Sword Mistress is skilled in Moving in Armor, Sword Fighting, Swordsmanship, and  Tournament Combat.


    Hero Points: D8

    Description: The typical fighter, Warriors are skilled in basic melee combat and can wield a sword with skill, though magic and the healing arts are beyond their ability.

    The Warrior is skilled in Blades, Sword Fighting, Hand-to-Hand Combat, and  Moving in Armor.

    Warrior Crusader

    Hero Points: D8+2

    Description: Like the Warrior, only with a Righteous Cause to fight for.

    The Warrior is skilled in Blades, Sword Fighting, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Moving in Armor, and Defending Righteous Cause.

    Sample Character

    Gorf, the Barbarian

    Courage: 3
    Will: 2
    Strength: 4
    Moves: D6
    Hero Points: 6

    Gorf has 4 skills (Drinking Grog, Hitting and Smashing, Intimidation, and Sword Fighting) and 6 Hero Points.  During character creation these can be invested into any of these skills at a ratio of 1:1 or saved for later use.  All Skills default to 0, thus it may be a good idea to invest at least 1 point per skill.  More if you are able.  Thus the final result might look something like this:

    Gorf, the Barbarian

    Courage: 3
    Will: 2
    Strength: 4
    Moves: D6
    Hero Factor: 0

    Skills: Drinking Grog 2, Hitting and Smashing 1, Intimidation 1, Sword Fighting 2

    Note that all the Hero Points were used, thus reducing this stat to 0.  Be sure to mark it as such on your character sheet as Hero Factor not Hero Points.


    Most Skills are self-explanatory.  To illustrate a few sample descriptions follow.  The skills are simple and straightforward.  Use common sense and all will be clear.  Failing that try a dictionary.  Failing that, send me a ticket to the Riviera and all will be revealed.  No, really, they have nude beaches!  (Joking.)

    Blades: Skill with small blades such as knives, daggers, and short swords.

    Drinking Grog: How well a character is at drinking, mostly alcoholic beverages.

    Hitting and Smashing: Just what it says.

    Sword Fighting:  The basic ability to use a sword in combat, simple lethality.

    Swordsmanship: The ability to use a sword in combat and to display skill, elegance of form.

    Conflict resolution

    All actions rolls in Song of the Blood Spheres are represented by LOAD.  LOAD (Load of Active Difficulty) is a set number representing how many dice a character has to roll in any given situation based upon their Trait or Skill against a TN representing Difficulty Factor (DF).  All rolls against DF must be OVER the TN, not the TN or better, but actually over the actual TN value.
         Not to worry if your character has a 0 in a stat, all LOAD rolls are made by adding this base numerical value to 1D6.  However you are going to want those extra dice.  Trust me.  The only exception is Hero Factor, which can be thought of as representing "bonus" dice that can be applied to resolution rolls during play.  However Hero Factor is a finite resource so use it sparingly and only when needed.

    For instance:  Grof wants to Intimidate a foe.  The DF is set at 9 for the task.  Grof has 1D in his skill die pool thus his player would roll 2D6 (1D + D6) and try to roll a 10 or better.  Grof's players rolls a 5, failure.  However if Grof had a Intimidation score of 0 his player would still get to roll a D6, though the action is a automatic failure, but the Game Master can assess level of failure based upon the actual roll, if necessary.

    Difficulty Factor is as follows: 1-3: Relatively Easy (no brainers); 4-8: not easy; 9-15: mildly difficult; 16-20: Complicated; 21-26: Darned Intricate; 27-33 Very Complicated; Baffling: 34-35; 36+: Well Nigh Impossible.

    Setting up for Play

    Basic set up is easy.  You don't even need the PDFs I mentioned.  What you will need are veteran players.  In fact these rules assume that the players are all veteran gamers who can quickly spackle any holes they may find in the wall of rules.  In fact it is expected that the players, and Game Master, will fill in the background details as needed.

    To begin grab a sheet of notebook paper.  (Hex or graph paper will also do, if you happen to have any.)  Choose a player at random.  This player will now draw a irregular shape to represent one of the landmasses.  Pass the paper (and pencil) counterclockwise to the next player at the table and repeat this process until three landmasses have been established.

    Next, the player to whom the sheet is handed off will now mark off a spot, at random, to represent Mt. Mordrag on one of the landmasses.  This landmass is now the continent of Dracossh, the seat of power of the Draconian Coalition, and Mt. Mordrag is where that vile demonic beastie with the hard to pronounce name who also happens to possess the sphere Meliq will be found.

    Last, the next player will choose one of the remaining continents and either name it Necromunda (seat of power of the Necromancer's Guild) or Ombrage (seat of power of the Monster's Free Union) and then hand the paper, with the now outlined world of They, to the player who possesses the Knight Templar.  If not one possesses the Knight Templar as yet refer back to the section on character creation.

    Remember those alliances?  Good.  Each player should note which continent corresponds to their chosen group, this is where their characters start play.  Each character group can act in concert or individually, though it is left up to the players to decide how these affiliations should be applied to in-game play.  The only exception is the Knight Templar, which may begin play on any continent of the GM's choosing.

    The Game Turn

    The game turn is really rather simple.  Every player may do whatever their characters actions allow, though their actions are limited to the skills they possess and their number of action dice.  For instance, in the above example, Grof had to roll all his action dice to attempt to Intimidate the foe.  He failed.  Thus, unless the situation allows for further possible action, play should continue to the next player or the GM.

    For instance, having failed to Intimidate the foe, the player may decide to have Grof haul off and Barbarian smack the foe (1D) or engage in a sword fight (2D) if the situation allows for these actions.  Of course once the actions have been attempted, meaning all the action dice available in the die pool for the given skill, then the Grof character can not do anything until a new Game Turn is declared.


    That's it.  Happy gaming.

    And best wishes to everyone, you're all Iron Game Chef Champs!

    P.S. Just for the record- and hello across time to those of you reading this after doing a search of the forum, great place isn’t it?- the above is Copyright © 2003 by C. Demetrius Morgan.  Yep, been a while.  But look at all the great stuff here.  Wow!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Matt Machell on May 15, 2003, 08:59:58 AM
    The concord states that the conflict between the Coalition and the Demarchy cannot spread. To allow it to do so would risk the stability of the entire galaxy, and the blood of a million worlds.

    It is thus limited to the warworlds, a strip of systems, comprising of the husks of a thousand spheres, the results of a lightyears-wide scorched earth policy.

    Your mind just signed up for a ten year term.

    Title: Oops, minor gaff...
    Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 15, 2003, 09:39:44 AM

    The Norseman Berserker should read as follows:

    Quote from: Kester Pelagius

    Norseman Berserker

    Hero Points: 2D4+2

    Description: Intrepid explorers, mighty warriors, and sometimes hot tempered when pressed; Norseman are fabled human warriors with many interesting skills.  However they are reknowned far and wide for their battle frenzy.

    Norseman Berserkers have the following skills and abilities: Blades, Battle Rage, and Sword Fighting.

    Note: Battle Rage = Battle Frenzy

    Sorry about that.  (Can't edit the post.)

    BTW: The individual maps are now up as PDFs optimized for onscreen viewing.  Click the link in the sig if interested.

    Kind Regards,

    Kester Pelagius

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 15, 2003, 11:36:28 AM
    Whirrr! Chop-chop!  Ding!

    As the clock ticks, the chefs continue to bring out their courses.  A garnish of Virgin sacrifices goes on one Volcano Pig Roast, a Ground-hog is stuffed with olives and fig leaves and seared with lava, songs of Magic are lavished on Heroic cuts of Norse Myth, we have spicy dishes of Sci-Fi wonder, unexpected sorbets of Mind-control and popular song and more. Some remain in the oven, held back for perfection and precisely timed release.  

    It is a smorgasborg of delights...stiff competition for the Contender from Western Mass....  But only one chef may reign supreme!

    Sign in Stranger  formerly: Song of the blood moon.

    Mechanics in depth: Character establishment

    Character Sheet
    Divide a piece of notebook paper in half, making two vertical columns.  At the top of the left-hand column, write the character's name. Below this, write the First Question: "What was your life like on Earth?" Leave space for this to be answered in 2-3 sentences, and then three additional lines for associated skills and their scores.  

    Below this, still in the left column, write: "Lunar Training", and leave blank 6-7 lines below it for skills and scores.

    Below this write the Second Question: "What are you like?" lines following it blank to the bottom of the page.  

    At the top of the right hand column write the Third Question: "What brought you here? or "What brought you into Space?".  Leave a couple lines blank beneath it, then write the name of the first alien species this character has encountered below this, followed by the attractive/repulsive attribute pair with six circles between the two attributes.  Draw six lines on the three lines below the pair open for memories to be added, as illustrated in the prior post on this game.  Leave the rest of this column open for the same information to be written about other species encountered.

    Earth experience  The character has (presumably) had a body of experience in her life on earth.  Choose three activities that the character has spent significant time doing and write them below the answer to the First Question (what was your life like on Earth?).  Assign 6 points total to these skills.  Skills may be chosen during the process of sharing answers to the First Question with the group.  It may make sense for people to avoid choosing overlapping skills.

    Typing           3
    Karate-do      2
    Lawn care      1  

    Lunar training is acquired after the group has selected it's assignment on an alien planet.  Each character should choose three skills that they wish to receive training in before they leave for their new home. These skills all start at level 3.  All characters are assumed to be taught a base understanding of the language of the dominant species on the planet.  Higher fluency may be chosen as a Lunar training skill.  The group may wish to coordinate training types in character to give the colonizing party the best pool of resources and to use the strengths of party members to fullest extent.    

    Personal Traits are short descriptions of the character's personality that are written on the lines below the answer to the Second Question (what are you like?).  The character's player chooses three of these at the end of the first session.  

    Attribute Pairs
    The character may begin play with at least one circle filled in for the Sxosian attribute pair: song and smell. The first circle to the right of "song" should be filled in, and all succeeding proceed to the right.  Each filled in circle represents another "song" (or analogous attribute) point, and a reduction in the character's "smell" points.

    --Emily Care

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: ethan_greer on May 15, 2003, 02:06:03 PM
    Well, I'll be too busy to do it tomorrow, so here it is!


    Blood Songs of the Volcanic Sphere

    A Role-Playing Game

    Iron Game Chef: Simulationist (High Concept)

    Copyright (c) 2003 by Ethan Greer



    Deep beneath what we Terrans know as the ground, in an incomprehensibly vast, sunless cavern, floating in a virtually endless sea of lava, is a massive sphere of rock.  Just a small disc of the sphere rises above the surface of the roiling magma, forming a circular island.  This is the Volcanic Sphere, an oasis of life in an ocean of fiery nastiness.

    The Volcanic Sphere rotates and turns ever so slowly on the sea, seemingly at random.  As a result, the lay of the land changes with the generations.  The tribes of the Volcanic Sphere live out their simple lives in the tropical rain-forested hills.  They adhere to a monotheistic faith, worshiping a divine being they call the Lord of Lava, who allows their world to float in his midst.

    Due to the rotation of the Sphere, some village or another will be forced to move once every 10 years or so.  Such a move is considered a holy pilgramage.  A tribe on the move is inviolate - few will mess with them for fear of interfering with the Lord of Lava's grand plan.  A moving tribe will typically move to settle towards the center of the continent.  Thus, it may be many many years before the village must move again.  The further out towards the lava sea a village is, the lower the tribe's status.  Being required to move is considered a great favor from the Lord of Lava, indicating his divine favor upon the village.

    The climate of the sphere is hot, mostly tropical, but gets a little bit more temperate towards the center.  Volcanic activity gets more and more common the closer you get to the Rim - think Hawaii, only moreso.


    The Blood Song

    So what's with this Blood Song business?  Well, you'll need some background.  The tribes of the Volcanic Sphere view the human body as sort of a negative mirror of the world.  As the Volcanic Sphere floats in a sea of lava and is encompassed by it, so each body encompasses its own sea.  The lava feeds the Volcanic Sphere and consumes it, while blood feeds the body and is contained by it.  Hence, one's blood is one's own store of lava, and blood is what links humanity to the Lord of Lava.

    Of all humanity, those most in tune with the Lord of Lava, and the lava within, are the blood singers.  These are individuals with command over their own blood.  These are your characters.

    In order to invoke the magic of the blood, a blood singer must sing.  It is the singing that calls the blood and commands the mystical energy that permeates the living Volcanic Sphere.  When a blood song is invoked, wounds appear on the caster's body, and blood trickles forth to fuel the magic.


    Darkness and Light

    There is no regular day/night cycle on the Volcanic Sphere.  The Sphere floats in the Great Lava Sea, and there is nothing in the sky above but clouds and blackness.  The lighting on the Volcanic Sphere is pretty close to normal sunlight, but there's a reddish tint to it that becomes more noticeable the darker it is.

    During the game, the GM keeps track of the current light status.  When starting at a random point in time, the GM may choose what the lighting is, or you can flip a coin, or the players might say, "we start at the next Darkness."  After that, every four hours of in-game time (roughly; you don't have to be spot-on), roll a six-sided die and add the number of previous periods of the same level of light.  If the total is 7 or more, the lighting reverses - Darkness goes to Light, or Light goes to Darkness.

    Since that probably made no sense, here's an example:  Say the game starts during Light.  Four hours in, the GM rolls a die and adds 1 for the previous period of Light.  The total is 4 - it's still Light.  (If the total had been 7, it would have changed to Darkness.)  Another four hours of game time go by, and the GM rolls a die again, this time adding 2 for the previous two periods of Light.  The GM rolls a 6, making it a total of 8, so now it's Darkness.  After another four hours, the GM would roll again, adding 1 for the single prior period of Darkness.  And so on.


    How To Make A Character: Stats


    Blood: 1-3 - this is the quality of your blood.  The higher the number, the more potent your blood is as a magical fuel.

    Song: 1-3 - This is the power of your voice.  The higher the number, the greater potential for your singing to command the mystical forces of blood magic.

    Sphere: 1-6 - this is the physical condition of your body.  It governs strength, agility, speed, dexterity, basically anything physical.  The lower your Sphere, the closer you are to the condition of being a pile of guts and bones in a skin bag.

    Spirit: 1-6 - This is spiritual condition of your being.  It governs intelligence, willpower, creativity, basically anything mental or "spiritual" (whatever that means).  The lower your Spirit, the closer you are to the condition of being a mindless, soulless vegetable.

    Light affinity:  Choose Darkness or Light.  You have a one die bonus during your chosen condition to all casting.

    Create a character by distributing 12 points among the four stats, keeping within the limits specified for each stat.  Then choose a Light Affinity.



    Talents are skills and abilities that a character has.  Talents are boolean; you either have a Talent or you don't.

    Talent list:

    Politics (knowledge of Tribe statuses, mostly)

    Other Talents are possible, but any Talent is subject to GM approval.

    Choose six Talents for your character.


    Task resolution: Roll a number of dice equal to Sphere or Spirit, whichever governs the task.  Add one die for a relevant Talent.  Count up the dice that come up even.  This is the number of successes.

    If you're acting in direct opposition to another entity in the game, the GM (or the player, if it's another character) rolls an appropriate number of dice for the opposition, as determined by Sphere/Spirit and any related Talent.

    For tasks against static setting elements (like jumping over a chasm), the GM rolls a number of dice according to how difficult they consider the task to be.  Use the chart below as guideline:

    Easy: 1
    A little difficult: 2
    Downright hard: 4
    Extremely difficult: 8

    Whichever side gets the most successes "wins" the task.  The GM will determine what "winning" means on a case-by-case basis and describe the outcome of the task to the players.

    On a tie, the GM adjudicates appropriately.  If the situation at hand renders a tie nonsensical, both sides roll one die at a time and continue to do so until a winner is determined.



    To cast a spell, the caster must be able to sing.  A gag is an effective way to disempower a blood singer.  For the singing, there are no recognizable words, it's just a sort of melodic chanting.  The melodies are haunting, and make any listeners' hair stand on end.  Not in a cartoony way - it just gives you goosebumps, raises your hackles, etc.

    When the caster starts to sing, cuts will appear on their bodies at random as if from an invisible slashing blade, and blood will trickle from the wounds.  Combined with the singing, it's really an awe-inspiring thing to witness.  When the blood cost has been exacted, the cuts close again and disappear.  Blood mages tend to wear little or no clothing.  Figure loincloths, if that.  Fortunately, there isn't any nudity taboo to speak of.

    The cuts are painful, but it's a pain that a blood singer bears.  Some singers hate the pain, and cast only when they deem it necessary.  Others like the pain, and tend to be a bit freaky.  Your average blood singer is somewhere in the middle.

    So, what do spells do?  What does casting accomplish?  Lots of different things.  Basically, you've got fairly free rein to decide effects.

    The base number of dice rolled to cast a spell is equal to Blood + Song.

    A character has a Blood Pool equal to (5 * Sphere) + Spirit + (2 * Blood).  Spend Blood Points to add a die to the your casting roll.  If you spend all your blood points, you bleed to death.  Blood points recover at a rate of 1 per 20 minutes of in-game time.  Use red glass counters to represent blood points if you want to be cool.  If you don't care so much about being cool, use any other tracking method you choose.

    If the spell fails, the caster takes a point of damage from either Sphere or Spirit, caster's choice.  If the spell succeeds, the desired effect happens and the blood points are spent.

    Here's how it goes in play:
    1) The player describes the desired spell effects.
    2) The GM determines how many dice of difficulty the spell will be.  This step should be open to discussion among the group.
    3) The player determines how many dice they are going to roll to cast the spell, using blood points to add dice.
    4) Roll.
    5) GM describes the outcome.

    Here's a chart the GM uses to determine dice costs:

    Number of dice for a spell: 3
    Spell deals/heals Sphere damage: +1 die per point.
    Spell deals/heals Spirit damage: +2 dice per point.
    Per living target, or number of cubic yards in area of effect: +1
    Spell can affect targets at range and in view: +1
    Spell can affect targets at range but not in view: +2 dice, +1 die per mile away (if greater than 1).
    Spell can cause others to do something against their will: +1
    Spell can cause others to do something against their will that would harm themselves or loved ones: +2
    Spell can cause others to do something against their will that would kill themselves or loved ones: +4
    Spell has impressive visuals (illusion): +1
    Spell has impressive audio: +1
    Spell effect has a duration: +1 per ten seconds

    The player determines the visual and audible effects of the spell, if any.

    If using the Time Management system while casting a spell, it takes 1 action as a base, and each blood point spent on the spell takes an additional action.  If a spell is being cast under circumstances that are not time-sensitive, the casting takes some amount of time, maybe thirty seconds or something, but it doesn't really matter.  The caster must sing during the entire casting time, and can take no other actions.


    Weapons of the Volcanic Sphere:  The technology level is roughly stone age.  Hence, spears, bone knives, and that sort of thing are the weapons you're going to see.  There are three grades of weapon:

    1 - small, mildly effective weapons:  kicks and punches, thrown rocks, small knife, etc.  Adds 1 die to an attack roll.

    2 - larger, more effective weapons:  Club, spear, large bone knife, etc.  Adds 2 dice to an attack roll.

    3 - Really big nasty weapons: Big club, big extra-pointy spear, etc.  Adds 3 dice to an attack roll.

    People don't wear armor.  It's too hot, and the culture isn't particularly geared towards fighting.  Instead, people tend to hide behind trees or use some factor of the surroundings to make themselves harder to hit, and this is incorporated in the combat rules.


    Time Management

    When the in-game events are of a time sensitive nature (combat being the easiest example), use this time management process:

    A round lasts ten seconds.  Each character gets a minumum of one action during a round.

    At the beginning of each round, each player rolls the greater of Spirit or Sphere.  The number of successes is the number of additional actions the character can take during the round.  Go around the room starting with the player on the GM's left and announce and resolve actions one at a time until all actions for the round have been used.

    You can hold an action if you want, and interrupt any later action to do something "right then."  You may only have one held action at a time.  If you still have a held action after the last regular action of the round, you get one more chance to use it before the next round begins.  If you don't use it at that time, you lose it.



    Combat happens.  Here's how to do it:

    Use the time management system above.

    When attacking a character physically, roll on Sphere, adding dice for an appropriate Talent and for your weapon.  If the defender is aware of the incoming attack and decides to do something about it, the attack is rolled against whatever the defender can muster.  Defending in this way costs one action; if you have no actions left in the round, you can't actively defend.  (This doesn't have to be a held action; you can spend an action to defend any time you're attacked.)  If there is no active defense, the GM chooses how many dice of difficulty using the guidelines in Task Resolution.

    If the attack is successful, subtract the number of the defender's successes from the number of the attacker's successes, and the result is the number of damage points inflicted on the defender.  Damage points temporarilly reduce the injured entity's Sphere by a corresponding amount.  If you take a number of damage points equal to Sphere, your Sphere is reduced to 0 which means you fall unconscious and will die if someone doesn't heal you within oh, say ten minutes.

    It should be fairly apparent at this point that combat in this game is deadly.  If that bothers you, multiply the Sphere by some number, say 3, and reduce Sphere by 1 for each 3 (in this case) damage points you take.


    Spirit Damage:  Spells can damage the Spirit.  So can bad scares, emotional stress, and things like that.  If the GM thinks something would cause Spirit damage, the character rolls Spirit vs. whatever number of dice the GM sees fit.  Failure means the character takes a point of Spirit damage.  Spirit damage points work the same as Sphere damage points, except the damage points are tracked separately.  Sphere damage points have no effect on Spirit, and vice versa.

    When your Spirit drops to 0 or below, you become comatose, physically alive but brain dead.  You will physically die (from starvation if nothing else) if someone doesn't prevent it.



    Magic can heal both types of damage quickly, as in seconds.

    Without magic, only the passage of time can heal Spirit damage.  Spirit damage heals at a rate of 1 Spirit level per two weeks of game time.

    Without magic, Sphere damage must be tended by a medicine wo/man, and have time in order to heal.

    Making a roll to provide medical attention to Sphere damage is a Spirit roll.  Only one roll is needed to start the healing process.  Treated Sphere damage heals at a rate of one Sphere level per week of game time.


    Societal Roles

    Blood singers are not a part of normal tribal society.  Their place on the Volcanic Sphere is to wander the wilds, traveling from village to village, and to follow the will of the Lord of Lava as the singer interprets it.  The ability to blood sing usually manifests itself at puberty, at which point the new singer is sent away with the next blood singer that happens to come through the village.  Usually, one (or one group of) blood singers will wander through a village per month.  A blood singer is obliged by societal tradition to take on the new singer as an apprentice.  If a singer refuses, that tends to get the village against them, which can be bad.

    People will tend to keep their young children away from blood singers, since to a youngster it can be pretty freaky to witness a spellcasting.  Otherwise, however, singers are treated with respect fitting one close to the Lord of Lava.  That doesn't mean the average person would be happy to put one up for the night; it's a wary sort of respect.

    Blood singers often do services for villages, so there's an adventure potential right there.  "Please, singer(s), help us kill/find/solve/capture the monster/lost child/mystery/criminal," etc.



    There isn't really a "big bad" from a spiritual standpoint in the world.  There's no hell, no evil deity, or suchlike.  However, animal totem spirits have different personalities and spiritual standings.  And the Mother is an important figure - fertility goddess, gave birth to the sphere, that sort of thing.

    Afterlife basically goes along these lines:  Your spirit mingles with the Lord of Lava and passes beyond the Sphere into the Great Lava Sea.  The spirits of new children come from the Great Lava Sea as well.

    Some oaths you might hear:
    To the sea with <whatever> = to hell with <whatever>
    Go to the Rim = go to hell
    Lava take you = fuck off and die
    Good Lord = good Lord

    A circle with a horizontal line across it is a common holy symbol.


    Flora and Fauna

    If it's in the jungles of Earth, it's probably somewhere on the VS.  Create plants and animals as you need them.

    Close to the Rim, things get weird and hellish.  The lava vents are thicker and fiercer, the air is harsher and may stink of sulpher, and strange beasts and monsters stalk the land.  Ten miles from the rim is uninhabitable by humans, and within fifty miles or so is when a village will start to pick up and move.


    Everyday life in the village

    Go watch a National Geographic special.  Village life is not a focus of the game, so whatever knowledge the GM has on jungle tribal societies should be fine.  Although chances are, the villagers grow a lot of turnips.


    Finishing the Song:

    Basically, this game isn't done.  Oh, sure, it's playable and all that (I think), but it lacks the flipping great wads of Color that is common to High-Concept Sim games.  If I had more than a week, I'd make the following additions and augmentations:

    - Rewrite the game in a more evocative writing style.
    - Include a rundown of various prominent tribes, more detail about the tribal structure and culture, and more detail about village life.
    - Include more information about the landscape, flora, and fauna of the Volcanic Sphere; this would include sample maps, a bestiary, and a guide to plant life.
    - Provide an introductory adventure scenario and some adventure seeds.
    - Add some illustrations.

    Further, the game in its current state has not been playtested.  As a result, the list of sample Talents is a bit sparse, and the chart for determining spell costs is almost certainly in need of revision.


    Commentary on this particular contest:

    So, I had it in mind to do two games, and I even went so far as to clear it with Mike that it was okay.  I don't have two games though, as I had planned.  See, it came into my head that the inclusion of the keywords in the parameters of the contest pretty much makes it a guarantee that most if not all of the games will be High-Concept Sim.  So I decided to see if I could do a Purist For System game using three of the four terms.  I failed.  Mainly because Purist For System games are a bitch to write, and dull to boot.  I doubt we'll see a Purist For System game entered in this contest, unless someone sees this commentary as a call to action.

    So, to sum up, the Iron Game Chef: Sim competition pretty much ruled out Purist For System design by my interpretation.  Mind you, I don't know if that's bad.  If it's a limitation of the contest format, it personally didn't bother me, even though I failed to rise to my own challenge of trying to do a Purist For System game using the required words.  I just thought I'd bring it up as (heh) food for thought.

    That's that.

    The other thing I wanted to do was mention that when I saw the other IGC contest going, I thought to myself at the time, "Ha!  Like I'd ever be able to write a game in a week!"  Six months later, I did it, and did a passing fair job of it if I do say so myself.  To me, that speaks volumes about how the Forge has affected my game design.  So I'd just like to take a moment to say thanks.

    And that's that.

    May the best chef win!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Gwen on May 15, 2003, 06:43:26 PM

    Ideally for 6+ players, up to as many as can play.

    This is a light hearted, humourous, dark, comical game.

    Politiks simulates the ficticious journey to King of the World.  Following the numerous attacks to all forms of organized government by the Nihilist group V.O.L.C.A.N.O., the world fell into a massive economic slump.

    As the world strives to recover, all eyes have turned to the New United Nations for leadership.  In turn, the NUN has turned to the players of Politiks.  Each player will compete with one another to come into politikal power and control the entire planet.

    Character Creation

    Each politikian decided what Sphere of Influence they derrive all their clout from.  Anything from "Mafia" or "the Church" to "Porn Star' or "Enviromentalist Group."  Their sphere represents their platform and their over all reaction to other people's opinion.

    Politikians have three other attributes: Blood, Presence, and VOLCANO.

    BLOOD starts at 0 and increases with every person that they have "silenced" or "disappeared."  Anyone can be "silenced", except other players.  (This includes the players family, pets, or neighbors as potential "warnings.")

    PRESENCE starts at 0 and represents how well known the player is through out the politikal race.  Presence points can only be awarded to players by the GM, usually after a strong point in a debate, or hard-core campaigning.

    VOLCANO starts at 0 and represents how closely tied the player is to the still-existant terrorist group.  VOLCANO points are acquired various ways:

    A player can burn one point of PRESENCE to force a point of VOLCANO on someone else.  This represents "mud slinging."
    A player can voluntarily take a point of VOLCANO to receive no BLOOD tokens.  This represents "hiring" outside "workers" to "silence" people.
    The GM can force a point of VOLCANO on a player if they make evil remarks which get leaked to the media.

    The Debate

    Each player starts out in a debate.

    Debates incluse all players and this is where they will discuss certain topics presented by the GM.  Any topic is fair game.  Some might include:

    The death penalty
    Space Exploration
    Re-animation of dinosaurs in a massive theme park
    Who is better?  Kirk or Picard?
    What do you think about medicinal marajuana

    Good answers and sicussion will benefit in PRESENCE points as the people come to support you.

    A player can burn a PRESENCE token to "force" a topic.  The player then writes a question and a player down on a peice of paper and hands it to the GM.  The GM then reads the question to the player and expects a clear and concise answer.

    The idea here is to- of course- make everyone else look bad while making yourself look good.

    The Campaign

    Players then campaign, telling the GM where they go and what they do.  This is where they will acrue some more PRESENCE tokens.

    During this time, the players can acquire a VOLCANO token as they dig up dirt on another player.  The GM then creates an embarassing or evil deed another player has done in the past and writes it down.  (The player who takes the VOLCANO point can decide which player the dirt is on.)

    This dirt is kept secret until the next debate.

    Continued Play

    Play alternates between Debates and Campaigns.

    As time passes, people will lose and gain PRESENCE, VOLCANO AND BLOOD points.

    BLOOD points can be acquired by silencing people who would otherwise provide more "dirt" on someone.


    Before each debate, thr GM rolls a d20 versus each players VOLCANO points.  If the roll is less than their VOLCANO rating, they are discovered as a member of the Nihist group and removed from the debates.

    This is fun, because you can still acquire PRESENCE and BLOOD points.  You can use your presence to buy "dirt" and supply it to other players.  Otherwise, you can take BLOOD points and kill off whoever you want.

    End Game

    Towards the end of the game, ideally, only two people will be left in the debates as they banter back and forth with dirt supplied to them by the Nihilist peoples.

    Meanwhile, darn near everyone ever mentioned will be killed off by the Nihilists, who can acrue BLOOD points with no drawbacks.

    Whoever makes it to the end of the game without being exposed as a Nihilist (which everyone is one anyways) will win the game.

    National Anthem

    The winner writes one verse for each of the other players, who are then forced to sing the New National Anthem.  (This is the song part, you know.)

    This is very funny, because, while most people can't sing, the Anthem will undoubtedly cover how the winner schooled everyone else in the debates.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: C. Edwards on May 15, 2003, 07:46:39 PM
    BLOOD starts at 0 and increases with every person that they have "silenced" or "disappeared." Anyone can be "silenced", except other players. (This includes the players family, pets, or neighbors as potential "warnings.")

    Damn. You know a game is serious when it involves killing the other players' pets.  ;)

    Seriously though, very sweet concept and I think it would be great fun to play.

    Pele says you deserve a Beer. :)


    Title: Tooth & Claw
    Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 15, 2003, 08:02:38 PM
    Tooth & Claw
    Adventure Roleplaying in the Age of Dinosaurs

    By Jared A. Sorensen

    Welcome to the Mesozoic Era!  Welcome to the Age of Dinosaurs!
    Dinosaurs were creatures that lived in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of Earth’s history. Although many mysteries remain, scientists have uncovered many clues to explain what the dinosaurs were like and how they lived.

    About 250 million years ago (a period called the Triassic), all the continents were joined together into a super-continent called Pangea. The Triassic heralded the arrival of some strange new lifeforms – the first dinosaurs. Over time, Pangea slowly broke apart into halves to form the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia.  During the latter half of the Mesozoic Era (the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods), those two continents broke up and drifted apart, forming the basis of the continents that exist today.

    Dinosaur evolution was a long and varied process.  From the primitive saurians of the early Triassic to the mighty kings of the Cretaceous, dinosaurs changed to adapt to their environment, to climate, to new predators and to new prey.  As such, not all dinosaurs existed at the same time.  Some dinosaurs you may be familiar with weren’t even around during the later periods.  And when the continents broke apart and the land bridges were severed, some dinosaurs evolved into separate species, never meeting one another face-to-face again.

    In this game, we’re going to re-write history a little bit in order to accommodate the existence of all the dinosaurs you know and love.  Pangea has yet to break apart, primitive flowering plants have evolved and all the dinosaurs of the Mesozoic exist at more or less the same time.  Granted, this is a major deviation from scientific fact, but you’ll see that it’s one of only a few changes that have been made in this game.  Part of what’s so cool about dinosaurs is that they really existed…and part of what makes Tooth & Claw so special is that these adventures really could have happened!  

    So with this in mind, step back into the misty past and enter the Age of Dinosaurs!

    About the Game
    In Tooth & Claw, you’ll play the part of an ancient species, millions of years long gone. This poses a challenge because dinosaurs are so mysterious and despite a wealth of knowledge uncovered over the last few decades, we only have a limited amount of information about dinosaurs. You’ll notice that some of the details in this game are based on scientific fact, while others are based on theory or speculation. In many cases, some of this stuff is entirely made up!

    Also, this game doesn’t attempt to delve into all aspects of dinosaur physiology, behavior and (!) society. The best place to fill in the considerable gaps is in your local library or via the World Wide Web. Additional information can be found in the excellent “Walking with Dinosaurs” series that has aired on the Discover Channel (DVDs are also available and are highly recommended). Of course, when in doubt, feel free to make things up. I did!

    The Setting – Mesozoic Earth
    Tooth & Claw takes place in a world very different than our own. The climate is wet and hot in the vast jungles and dry and desolate on the savannah. Spiky cycads and tough vegetation dot the landscape. There are no grasses anywhere – they have yet to evolve – but ferns and conifer trees are abundant. Large insects buzz through the air while immense crocodilians and strange gilled creatures swim through brackish lakes and streams. The earth is in constant flux and fierce storms sweep across the land. Volcanoes spew ash and smoke, raining flaming ruin upon the valley below, and strange lights streak across the evening sky. One of these, a dense sphere of meteoric iron, has recently crashed into a mountainside. The still-smoking crater is a hundred feet wide and the earth around it is fused smooth from the force of the impact. A great ocean covers the planet and surrounds the enormous landmass where the dinosaurs roam. Within its mysterious depths lurk strange and terrifying beasts, forever a mystery to their terrestrial cousins.

    It is in this savage land where your adventures unfold. Survival of the fittest, won in battles of tooth and claw.

    GNS Issues and (Continental) Drift
    Ostensibly a Simulationist exercise, it’s more than likely that your Tooth & Claw games will “drift” toward the two extremes of gameplay: Narrativism and Gamism. A Narrativist game of Tooth & Claw is sure to touch upon issues of family and co-existence, possibly reaching a state I’ve dubbed “Shakespeare with Dinosaurs.” In essence, your dinosaur characters face very human conflicts and dealing with those conflicts in a dramatic way becomes the focus of the game. Check the “Mesozoic Theatre” section for a handful of potential dino-stories.

    Gamist play focuses on the various ways that dinosaurs can interact and the different kinds of challenges that could arise. Depredation, sexual rivalry, protection (of the herd, of offspring), daily survival, life and death come down to a roll of the dice and clever ways to approach the system. This is certainly encouraged as much as thematic exploration.

    In the end, Tooth & Claw is simply about pretending that you’re a dinosaur. What does that entail? Well, hopefully the game will give you some ideas but in the end, it’s up to you.

    The Big Questions
    “Can Tooth & Claw characters speak?”
    Yes and no. Dinosaurs can communicate, but it’s up to the group how this communication is approached. “Disneyfication” is one way…that is, the dinosaurs speak with human voices (your voices) and the characters are played much the same as in other RPGs. Another way is to limit vocalizations to roars, growls, trumpets and other dinosaur-friendly sounds. Actual communication is done player to player, usually by speaking in the third person. “Crookclaw lowers his head and growls a warning to the new arrival. It would be wise to step away from the clutch of eggs before he charges you.” is perfectly acceptable. You can even mix the two methods, using narration and dialogue interchangeably. Talk about it before the game and discuss the pro’s and con’s of each of the three methods.

    "Are there humans? Mammals?"
    Tooth & Claw takes place millions of years ago, long before humans existed. Mammals do exist, however, but they’re small, shrew-like creatures or inquisitive protosimians (such as lemurs). No mammoths, no saber-toothed cats. Small reptiles are abundant and insects of every imaginable size, shape and color are everywhere. Sharks, rays and fish swim in the seas. Birds have just started to make their appearance.

    "Can I play a Plesiosaur? Or a Pteranadon?"
    Although marine and winged reptiles are Archosaurs (ruling reptiles), they’re not dinosaurs. Neither are the mammal-like reptiles (such as Dimetrodon). If you have your heart set on playing a non-dinosaur Archosaur, discuss it with your group.

    "Can we roleplay the 'End of the Dinosaurs'?"
    If you want to, but I’m not sure how fun it would be. Tooth & Claw doesn’t really go into the how’s, whys or when’s of dinosaur extinction but feel free to run a “post-apocalyptic” game if you wish to do so.

    Game Mechanics
    The best way to dive into the material is to discuss the game mechanics and the various options that you (as a player or as the GM) will have during the game.

    Tooth & Claw is a die-pool system that uses six-sided dice. When rolling the dice, you’re looking for successes. In this case, that means a roll of 1 on any one die. Additional successes may be gained by rolling a sequence of numbers starting with the target number of 1. For example, if I roll four dice and score the following results:

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Then this qualifies as four successes. Additional 1’s or numbers out of sequence don’t count. Neither do multiple sequences. For example, this roll counts as two successes:

    1, 1, 2, 4

    1, 2 are counted because they form a sequence. The extra 1 doesn’t matter and the 4 isn’t included in the sequence because the number 4 doesn’t follow the number 2 when counting from one to six.

    Most unopposed challenges only require one success. These are die rolls that resolve simple questions that arise during the game. “Can I do cross this river?” “Is this food good to eat?” A single success is enough. Opposed challenges are more common and involve some kind of competition or adversarial relationship. One dinosaur is hiding from a predator while the predator is searching for its prey. One dinosaur is courting a female while another is trying to out-do his display. In challenges such as these, each “side” makes its own die roll and the challenger with the most successes wins the contest.

    For example, in the hidden dinosaur vs. searching dinosaur example, the following results are rolled:

    Hiding dinosaur: 1, 1, 2, 3
    Seeking dinosaur: 1, 4, 4

    The hiding dinosaur gets two successes. The seeking dinosaur only gets 1. Therefore, the hiding dinosaur wins the challenge and remains hidden.

    When successes are rolled, they can sometimes be carried over as bonus dice to follow-up rolls. For example, a hidden predator that rolls well may apply the successes as bonus dice to an attack roll.

    Some dinosaurs have a special ability that allows them to increase their target number range, which increases the chances of rolling a single success. If a dinosaur has +1 to their target number, it means that rolls of 1’s or 2’s are treated as successes (a roll containing a 1 and a 2 is treated as a two-success sequence). If such a character rolled 2, 3, 4, 4, for example, this would net that character three successes (2, 3 and 4 are in sequence).

    Dinosaur abilities are called Behaviors and are rated as a number of dice that are rolled when that Behavior is used. For example, if my dinosaur has a Fight Behavior of 3, that means I get to roll three dice whenever my dinosaur fights. Dinosaur Behaviors are grouped according to their ruling Attribute. The three Attributes are Stamina, Speed, and Skill. During character creation, you’ll determine your Stamina, Speed and Skill and from there you spend points to establish your various Behavior scores.

    Die rolls may be augmented by expending Survival Dice and Skill Dice. In either case, one die is added to the roll for each Survival Die or Skill Die that is spent. Survival Dice and Skill Dice can only be spent on specific behaviors – you can’t mix-and-match them. There are actually two kinds of Survival Dice: Survival (Stamina) and Survival (Speed). Survival Dice (Stamina) may only augment Stamina-based Behaviors while Survival Dice (Speed) may only augment Speed-based Behaviors. Skill-based Behaviors are augmented by spending Skill Dice. If a Behavior has a score of 0, it means that Survival Dice or Skill Dice must be spent in order to use that Behavior.

    The following is a list of all nine Behaviors (broken down by Attribute) and their various uses:

    Stamina Behaviors
    Stamina Behaviors deal with physical strength and endurance. The larger the dinosaur is, the higher its Stamina will be.

    Fight: Fight is used to inflict injury on another creature, be it through predatory attacks, defensive strikes or ritualized combat. When wounds are inflicted, they remove Survival Dice and (eventually) Stamina points. A dinosaur dies when it loses all of its Stamina.

    Survive: Survive is used to fend off injury, be it from attacks, diseases, accidents or natural hazards. In practice, Survive is used to cancel the successes from an opposed roll.

    Display: Display is used to attract mates, intimidate aggressors or scare off weaker creatures. Though not as readily useful as Fight or Survive, a powerful Display can help to add bonus dice to an opposed roll.

    A side-note about courtship and mating: The fossil record hasn’t left us with many clues about dinosaur mating habits but we can infer some details by studying modern reptiles and birds. The mating habits of dinosaurs vary according to sub-order, species and diet. Big female carnivores usually raise their offspring without assistance from a male while smaller carnivores hunt in mated pairs. Herbivores have the strongest familial bonds, with aunts, uncles and grandparents assisting in child-rearing duties. Displays of strength are common among the bigger herbivores. Meat-eaters prefer to offer “gifts” to the objects of their affections. Females have their pick of the suitors and opt for the one with the greatest “earning potential.”

    Speed Behaviors
    Speed Behaviors deal with quickness and agility. The larger the dinosaur is, the lower its Speed will be.

    Chase: Chase is used whenever one dinosaur is in pursuit of another. Sometimes, this is just a friendly race but most often it’s used to run down a potential source of food.

    Escape: Escape opposes the Chase Behavior and is also used to outrun danger. When faced with a superior opponent, Escape is sometimes the only sensible option.

    Move: Move is used to traverse difficult terrain. This includes leaping, climbing, swimming and balancing. Move can be used to thwart an attacker, to survive a fall or to scamper up a tree in search of food.

    Skill Behaviors
    Skill Behaviors deal with intelligence and perceptive abilities. Skill Behaviors are determined by your dinosaur’s age.

    Hide: Hide is used to escape detection and is always opposed by the Seek Behavior. The Hide Behavior can be used in many ways: moving silently, hiding in dense foliage, staying downwind of a predator or using camouflage or the cover of darkness to conceal oneself.

    Seek: Seek is used to detect a hidden creature. It’s also used as a catch-all for the various senses that dinosaurs use in day-to-day life. Dinosaurs are diurnal, meaning that they operate best during daylight. Their visual acuity varies from poor (large theropods and herbivores) to very good (the medium to large-sized raptors). Mammals, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal (active at night) and cannot see color. Unlike dinosaurs, their night-vision is superb.

    Dinosaurs possess fairly good hearing, enabling them to pick up the sounds of wounded prey, stalking predators, mating calls and territorial challenges. Hearing also plays an important part in communication and dinosaur vocalizations can be quite complex, especially among the more intelligent raptors and socially-minded herbivores.

    By far, the most important sense for a dinosaur is its sense of smell. For some dinosaurs, it’s the only sense worth noting. Scavenging carnivores can smell rotting meat for miles and miles…if you can imagine a nose with legs and teeth, you’re not too far off.

    Because the sense of smell is so important, it bears further investigation and explanation. To a dinosaur, there are three smells that it lives and dies by: blood, carrion (rotting meat) and dung. The first two scents are of obvious importance: carnivores are drawn to the smell of food, and in a pinch, a rotting carcass could spell salvation for a hungry theropod. But it’s equally important to herbivores and omnivores. Herbivores know to steer clear of that smell because it means “meat-eaters are around.” Omnivores can sniff out carrion and maybe get some scraps without too much hassle – a good deal for them, to be sure. The smell of blood could also mean that an injured creature is nearby. Possible prey, yes…but an injured dinosaur is just as often a dangerous enemy.

    Dinosaurs are territorial creatures and they mark their territory in a number of ways. Clawing or knocking down trees shows off their size and strength. Scent-glands are also a good way of spreading information, especially when seeking a mate. And last, but certainly not least, deposits of dino droppings get the message out loud and clear. Dinosaur dung contains lots of olfactory information and it lasts longer than other methods. Think of it as the dinosaur Internet: a pile of steaming dung is like a message on a bulletin board, “Hey. I’m a big male with a family and this is my home. Stay out!”

    Learn: Learn is a curious Behavior that defines a dinosaur’s intelligence, memory and ability to process information. When something is encountered for the first time, use of the Learn Behavior can be used to gain valuable information. Is that plant safe to eat? Is there a mud-hole nearby? Who is the leader of that herd? Learn is used to answer these questions and many more.

    As a side-note, Learn is used to pass on knowledge to other dinosaurs (especially offspring). Plant-eating dinosaurs in Tooth & Claw use complex songs to communicate vast distances and warn of potential threats, much like modern whales. Meat-eaters pass on information by physical gesture, showing rather than telling.


    Who Goes First?
    When combat is initiated, the combatant with the higher Speed may act first (in the event of a tie, Speed Survival Dice may be spent to increase this number). The dinosaur that wins Initiative may choose any number of combat options (Fight, Survive, Move, Chase, Escape or Display).

    Once the fight has begun, you may choose to either Attack (roll your Fight Behavior) or Defend (roll your Survive Behavior). If both combatants roll their Fight, then each dinosaur may suffer injury. If one combatant rolls Survive, then that person simply needs to roll at least as many successes as their opponent. If both dinosaurs are rolling Survive, they stop fighting and no roll is even needed.

    In a Fight vs. Fight situation, each success equals a wound inflicted upon an opponent (damage does not roll over into bonus dice). In a Fight vs. Survive situation, each success greater than the defender’s total successes equals one wound the defender suffers. Each wound reduces the victim’s Survival Dice (Stamina or Speed) by 1. When all Survival Dice have been lost, then start subtracting Stamina.

    After the roll has been made, the dinosaur that won Initiative may choose to continue or to retreat. If it decides to retreat, the defender can simply allow this to happen or start a new round of combat. Again, the highest Speed wins Initiative.

    If Stamina is ever decreased lower than a Behavior, that Behavior becomes equal to the reduced Stamina score. This means that if the Stamina of a dinosaur with a Fight Behavior of 3 drops to two or less, their Fight Behavior is decreased as well. When the dinosaur has no more Stamina and no more Survival Dice, it dies (it can no longer Fight or Survive).

    In lieu of reducing one’s Stamina as a result of injury, a Scar may be taken. If this is done, permanently reduce a Behavior by the number of wounds received. Behaviors may not be reduced below 0 points. Scars appear as lost eyes, broken limbs or other such afflictions. Scars do not ever heal.

    Feeding and Healing
    Dinosaurs heal from injury at a rate of 1 Stamina point per day. Survival dice are gained at a faster rate. When the dinosaur eats, roll a feeding die. If the die results in a success, the dinosaur regains one Survival Die. More dice can be rolled if the situation permits and the dinosaur may gain additional Survival Dice if they possess a Survival Advantage (see the list of Advantages in Character Creation for more details).

    Use the following guide to determine how many feeding dice to roll:

    Carnivores: Carnivores find food by tracking and killing prey or by scavenging remains. Roll an extra die for every size category smaller than the prey. If the prey is carrion, roll one die to determine the “freshness” of the carcass and roll this many dice less. If more than one Carnivore is feeding on a carcass, split these dice up between then (you can also make Display rolls to “steal” feeding dice from others).

    Omnivores: Omnivores scavenge the remnants of carcasses for food the same way as Carnivores. They can also forage for eggs, grubs and other odd bits of food. To do this, make a Seek roll (unopposed) and roll any successes over as extra dice for the foraging attempt.

    Herbivores: Herbivores graze on vegetation. If food is plentiful, roll an extra die for every hour spent grazing. If food is scarce, allow the character to make a Learn roll opposed by its Stamina. Success means that the dinosaur knows where to find enough plants to eat and it gains a Survival die for each success (successes may be rolled over for other herbivorous characters).

    Skill Dice are regained if the dinosaur performs certain tasks (according to Diet). All uninjured dinosaurs regain all of their Skill Dice after waking from a good night’s sleep. An injured dinosaur regains one Skill die after waking from a night’s rest.

    Other Behaviors in Action

    Dinosaurs can also use their fierce demeanors to scare off an attacker. Both dinosaurs roll their Display Behavior. The loser must either withdraw or give a die bonus to the defender equal to the defender’s excess successes. If the dinosaur is facing multiple attackers, it can split any successes up between them or it can concentrate its successes on just one (an extremely impressive dinosaur might be able to drive off several attackers!). Outside of combat, the Display Behavior can be used to attract or repel a prospective mate (males are more likely to use Display than females). Make an unopposed Display roll (or opposed if in direct competition with another dinosaur). Success doesn’t mean you instantly attract a mate…it only opens the door. If in competition with another dinosaur, you can roll over those successes into a Fight roll (if you wish to cut to the chase and physically drive away the rival).

    In a Chase vs. Escape situation, the aggressor rolls Chase and the defender rolls Escape. If the aggressor wins, it catches up to the escaping dinosaur and may begin combat as if it won initiative. If the defender wins, it escapes pursuit unless the aggressor presses on. If the chase continues, the defender may add its successes to its next Escape roll. Pursuit ends when either party gives up (either the aggressor stops pursuing or the defender stops running away).

    The defender can also try to use its Move Behavior to get away from an attacker if the terrain permits such a maneuver (such as running across a log, climbing a rocky slope or diving into deep water). The retreating dinosaur must roll more successes than the attacker. If it does so, it escapes into the wilderness. If not, the attacker catches the escaping dinosaur and combat commences.

    Ambushes are done by making an opposed Hide vs. Seek roll. If the hidden dinosaur catches its quarry unaware, it may use any extra successes as a one round bonus for purposes of establishing Initiative or beginning Pursuit (if not within striking distance). If the defender wins the challenge, it may initiate combat as if it won initiative (from there it can fight or flee).

    The Learn behavior can be used to attempt complex maneuvers or other uses of quick-thinking (such as tail-sweeping an opponent or knocking down a tree to impede the progress of pursuer). Successes from a Learn attempt are rolled over as bonus dice. Examples of a Learn vs. Learn opposed challenge are rare but can come up. Simply treat them as normal opposed challenges where the winner adds extra successes as bonus dice. Learn cannot be used to increase the number of wounds inflicted on an opponent. Reduce any wounds by the number of bonus dice rolled by the aggressor.

    Character Creation
    When creating a dinosaur there are many variables to think about. The Sub-order is probably the most important as this defines (or limits) what your choices may be. Using the following guide, you can model an existing dinosaur (such as Utahraptor or Triceratops) or create your own unique dinosaur.

    Dinosaur Traits
    Sub-order: the type of dinosaur that you are
    Size: your size in relation to other dinosaurs (determines Stamina and Speed)
    Age: determines Skill
    Stance: how you walk around (also has an impact on some Behaviors)
    Diet: what you eat
    Suggested Advantages: qualities common to dinosaurs of a certain sub-order

    Players of Tooth & Claw are encouraged to create their own descriptive names for the various species and orders of dinosaurs (such as Shield-Bearers, Long Necks or Three Horns). Individual dinosaur “names” are usually descriptive (One-eye, Blood-Talon, Crookclaw) though a particularly savage creature might only identify itself with a blood-curdling roar.

    Sub-Orders of Dinosauria
    Scientifically speaking, members of Dinosauria were split into several orders, sub-orders, intermediate groupings and families.  Although we have taken some liberties with dinosaur classification in this game, we’ve tried to stay fairly close to scientific fact.

    There are five Sub-Orders of dinosaurs and all dinosaurs from a Sub-Order share  similar characteristics (Size, Stance, Diet and certain Advantages).  For example, all saurians from the “Beast Foot” Sub-Order (called Theropods) walk upright on two legs – most of them eat meat.  On the other hand, virtually all Shield Bearers (Thyreophorans) are heavily armored plant eaters that walk on all fours, close to the ground.

    Beast Feet – the Theropods
    Size: Tiny to Huge
    Stance: Biped
    Diet: Carnivorous or Omnivorous
    Suggested Advantages: Deadly, Powerful, Ferocious, Agile, Faster, Cunning, Wiry

    Theropods are bipedal dinosaurs and almost all of them are carnivores (meat-eaters).  They walk upright on their powerful legs, which allow quick and agile movement when hunting and stalking prey (usually large herbivores).   Most are armed with razor-sharp teeth and lethal claws.  The smaller Theropods hunt in packs while the larger ones prefer to keep to themselves or stay in mated pairs. Some of the smaller Theropods also possess feathered wings and can use them to glide or fly.

    Lizard Feet – the Sauropods
    Size: Medium to Immense
    Stance: Semi-Quadruped or Quadruped
    Diet: Herbivorous
    Suggested Advantages: Alert, Powerful, Experienced, Wise, Intimidating

    The polar opposites of the Theropods, Sauropods are plodding and massive quadruped herbivores.  With their long necks they graze on leafy twigs high up the air and their impressive stature and sinewy tails provide a means of defense against predators.  Although most sauropods are gigantic, some are almost petite and actually rear up on their hind legs in order to defend themselves or reach the upper branches of trees.

    Shield Bearers – the Thyreophorans
    Size: Large or Huge
    Stance: Quadruped
    Diet: Herbivorous
    Suggested Advantages: Armored, Deadly, Determined, Quiet, Experienced

    Thyreophorans are low-slung, heavily armored dinosaurs who feed on low-laying vegetation.  Their armor and tails (usually spiked or mace-like) make them experts at fending off predator attacks, thus earning them their nickname.  Thyreophorans are split into two groups: Stegasaurids (who have bony plates along their vertebrae) and Ankylosaurids (who are covered in bumpy, bony, spiky armor).

    Margined Heads – the Marginocephalids
    Size: Small to Huge
    Stance: Biped or Quadruped
    Diet: Herbivorous or Omnivorous
    Suggested Advantages: Decorated, Deadly, Ferocious, Powerful, Intimidating

    Marginocephalids are named for the frills and shelves that project from the back of their skulls.  Armed with sharp beaks for cutting through tough, fibrous vegetation, these dinosaurs are split into two main groups: the bipedal Pachycephalosaurians and the quadrupedal Ceratopsians.

    Bird Feet – the Ornithopods
    Size: Small to Huge
    Stance: Biped or Semi-Quadruped
    Diet: Herbivorous
    Suggested Advantages: Experienced, Faster, Camouflaged, Quick, Alert, Decorated
    Ornithopods are powerful bipedal herbivores equipped with cheek teeth adapted for grinding. Peaceful creatures, the larger Ornithopods had some very odd physical features – inflatable sacks above their nostrils, hollow crests or back-sails. Ornithopod size ranges from the small to the tall. The smaller ones rely on their speed to avoid danger while the larger ones keep together in large herds for safety.

    Before we move onto attributes, we should take a moment to talk about your dinosaur’s Diet.  Your character’s Diet describes what it eats and where it sits on the food chain: predator, prey or opportunist?  Each of the three Diets determines what kind of dinosaur you are, what you eat and what special abilities you may have.  

    Choose wisely!

    Carnivore: Carnivores eat other animals. Some of them are pack hunters who stalk their prey live, like the wolves of today. Others are solitary hunters or scavengers that eat carrion (dead animals).  Carnivores may not run with Herbivores…the two just can’t get along.  Only Theropod characters can be Carnivores.  

    Young Carnivores (and older) receive Deadly as a bonus Advantage. They replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by eating meat (fresh or carrion) and they replenish their Skill Dice by hunting or resting. Young Carnivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

    Omnivore: Omnivores are Theropods that eat fish, insects and (mmm!) eggs. They are usually much smaller than Carnivores and don’t have the ripping teeth and claws of their larger friends.  Instead, the have bird-like beaks that can crack open eggs or crunch insects and tiny creatures.  Because they’re small and sneaky and mostly harmless, Omnivores can get along fine with both Carnivores and Herbivores (except for that whole “egg-thief” business). Omnivores are often quite Wiry, making them much more suited to climbing than other dinosaurs.

    Omnivores replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by eating eggs, carrion or small animals (such as fish, lizards or insects). They replenish their Skill Dice by exploring or resting. Young Omnivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

    Herbivore: Herbivores eat plants.  Not the most exciting (or nutritious) diet, but there’s plenty of vegetation out there…and it doesn’t bite back!  Sauropods and Ornithopods enjoy browsing the tasty branches of trees, cycads and conifers.  Thyreophorans and Marginocephalids graze on the fibrous ground vegetation and ferns. Needless to say, being on the menu doesn’t endear them to the Carnivores.  Omnivores are tolerated, as long as they stay out of the way (splat!).

    Herbivores replenish their Stamina and Speed Survival dice by browsing the lowland for ferns and cycads or by grazing amongst the conifers for leaves and bark. They replenish their Skill Dice by devoting time to their families or resting. Young herbivores may also regain Skill Dice through play.

    A dinosaurs Size determines its Stamina (strength, endurance and health) and its Speed (how fast on its feet the dinosaur is). The general rule is this: the bigger the creature, the higher its Stamina and the lower its Speed.

    Next to each size are two numbers. The first shows how many dice you have to spend on Behaviors. The second number is your starting number of Survival Dice.

    Dinosaur’s Size --- Stamina Points --- Survival Dice (Stamina)
    Tiny ------------------------------- 1 ----------------------------- 7
    Small------------------------------- 2 ----------------------------- 6
    Medium -----------------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
    Large    -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
    Huge      ----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
    Gigantic  --------------------------- 6 ----------------------------- 2
    Immense   -------------------------- 7 ----------------------------- 1

    Dinosaur’s Size ------- Speed Points ------- Survival Dice (Speed)
    Tiny ------------------------------- 7 ----------------------------- 1
    Small------------------------------- 6 ----------------------------- 2
    Medium -----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
    Large    -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
    Huge      ----------------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
    Gigantic  --------------------------- 2 ----------------------------- 6
    Immense   --------------------------1 ----------------------------- 7

    A dinosaur’s Age determines its Skill (its ability to process information, remember events and plan actions). The general rule is this: the older the creature, the higher its Skill.

    Next to each Age group is a set of two numbers. The first number shows how many dice you have to spend on Skill Behaviors. The second number is your starting number of Skill Dice.

    Dinosaur’s Age -------- Skill Points ------------------ Skill Dice
    Baby -----------------------------1 ----------------------------- 7
    Young ----------------------------2 ----------------------------- 6
    Adolescent -----------------------3 ----------------------------- 5
    Adult  -----------------------------4 ----------------------------- 4
    Mature ----------------------------5 ----------------------------- 3
    Old --------------------------------6 ----------------------------- 2
    Ancient ---------------------------7 ----------------------------- 1

    Purchasing Behaviors
    Depending on your Size and Age, you will have between 1 and 7 points to spend on each group of Behaviors. You may place as many points into a single Behavior as you’d like, but remember: if your dinosaur has a Behavior score of 0, it can only perform that Behavior by spending Survival Dice or Skill Dice.
    Age and Growth
    Although it’s assumed that your dinosaur is an Adult dinosaur, you may choose to play a much older or younger dinosaur. Playing a youngster is challenging, but at least you’ll be quick enough and smart enough to stay out of trouble (maybe!). Older dinosaurs are gifted with great knowledge, but their physical attributes suffer. The size progression from young to old depends on how big your dinosaur will be at Adulthood:

    Baby  > Young > Adolescent > Adult
    Tiny ---- Tiny ---- Tiny ------- Tiny            
    Tiny ---- Tiny ---- Small ----- Medium
    Tiny ---- Small --- Medium -- Large
    Small -- Medium - Large ---- Huge
    Small -- Large --- Huge------ Gigantic
    Small -- Large --- Huge ----- Immense
    Older Dinosaurs
    There are three other Age groups but they come after Adulthood so their dinosaur’s size doesn’t increase to a noticeable degree. Mature dinosaurs are “middle-aged” but still in their prime. Their health is quite good and they can still bear young and hunt for their own food. Old dinosaurs are beginning to show their age – they suffer a penalty to some of their Survival Dice pools. Ancient dinosaurs are venerable and wise, but they’re simply not as tough or as fast as they used to be. Seldom do dinosaurs live to be Ancient in the savage world of Tooth & Claw.

    Once a dinosaur becomes Old or Ancient, it suffers a penalty to both its Stamina and Speed. Old dinosaurs are treated as being one size smaller when determining Stamina. Ancient dinosaurs are treated as being two sizes smaller when determining Stamina. Likewise, Old dinosaurs are treated as being one size larger when determining Speed and Ancient dinosaurs are treated as being two sizes larger. This means that Tiny dinosaurs can’t live to reach Old age and only Medium-sized or larger dinosaurs can ever become Ancient.

    This raises the question: how old can a dinosaur get?  Well, that’s up to you…usually the bigger the dinosaur, the longer they can live (females and Herbivores tend to live longer than males and Carnivores). Given enough food and a safe place to grow, some dinosaurs can get really ancient and live up to 150 years! But remember that despite their long lives, all dinosaurs die. It’s nature’s way and should always be kept in mind.

    Your dinosaur’s Stance determines whether it runs on two legs or walks on all fours. Stance also confers a bonus to some actions.

    Biped: Your dinosaur walks on two legs and can manipulate objects (to some extent) with its hands. Bipeds are usually faster than other dinosaurs and they are more adept at climbing and leaping. Bipeds gain +1 to any one of their Speed Behaviors.

    Quadruped: Your dinosaur spends its days walking on all fours. These dinosaurs are usually low to the ground or so massive that they need the support that a quadrapedal stance can provide.  To make up for this, many have long necks capable of peering over treetops or sweeping across low, wide areas. Quadrupeds are lousy jumpers and can’t really hold anything (unless they use their mouths). Quadrupeds gain +1 to their Seek Behavior or +1 to any roll involving balance. Quadrupeds suffer a -1 to their Move Behavior when climbing or leaping.

    Gigantic and Immense Dinosaurs must be Quadrupeds.

    Semi-Quadruped: Your dinosaur spends most of its time on all fours but can walk or run for short periods of time on two legs. Semi-Quadrupeds have shorter front legs than hind legs and their front legs are equipped with fairly dexterous “hands.” Semi-Quadrupeds gain +1 to any Speed Behavior when on two legs (make an unopposed Stamina roll to remain standing on two legs). When on all fours, they’re treated as having the Stance of a Quadruped.

    All Adolescent dinosaurs receive one starting Advantage of any type. Each additional increase in age gives the dinosaur an additional Advantage. Carnivorous dinosaurs of Young, Adolescent, Adult or Mature age gain an extra Advantage. It is possible to take one Advantage multiple times. This has the effect of adding additional dice to your Survival Dice or Skill Dice, adding dice to your Behavior rolls or increasing the target range of success when rolling Behavior dice.

    Age ----------- Starting Number of Advantages

    Baby ---------- 0
    Young --------- 0*
    Adolescent ---- 1*
    Adult ---------- 2*
    Mature -------- 3*
    Old ------------ 4
    Ancient ------- 5

    *Carnivores gain an extra advantage at this age

    Survival Advantages
    Survival Advantages grant you a bonus die in the appropriate Survival Pool when you regain Survival or Skill dice in that area.

    Powerful: regain +1 Survival Die (Stamina)
    Faster: regain +1 Survival Die (Speed)
    Experienced: regain +1 Skill Die

    Behavioral Advantages
    Behavior Advantages augment the number of dice you roll when using that Behavior. For example, if your dinosaur is Wise, you can roll an extra die when using the Learn Behavior.

    Quiet: roll +1 Hide die
    Wise: roll +1 Learn die
    Alert: roll +1 Seek die        
    Wiry: roll +1 Move die                          
    Quick: roll +1 Escape die                        
    Agile: roll +1 Chase die      
    Ferocious: roll +1 Fight die        
    Decorated: roll +1 Display die              
    Determined: roll +1 Survive die

    Evolutionary Advantages
    Evolutionary Advantages will increase the range of successful Target Numbers. In this case, any number within the target range will count as a success (a character with +1 target number will succeed on a roll of 1 or 2).

    Camouflaged: add 1 to Hide target numbers
    Cunning: add 1 to Chase target numbers
    Feathered**: add 1 to Escape target numbers (per GM’s approval)
    Deadly: add 1 to Fight target numbers
    Intimidating: add 1 to Display target numbers (when challenging a rival)
    Big-Brained: add 1 to Learn target numbers
    Armored: add 1 to Survive target numbers
    Dexterous: add 1 to Move target numbers
    Inquisitive: add 1 to Seek target numbers
    Colorful: add 1 to Display target numbers (when impressing a mate)        
    Crested*: add 1 to Learn (when communicating via Song)    
    Crested**: add 1 to Display (when impressing a mate)
    Aquatic*: add 1 to Move target numbers when in water

    *Herbivores or Omnivores only
    **Carnivores or Omnivores only

    Extraordinary Advantages
    Extraordinary Advantages allow dinosaurs to be larger, faster or more intelligent than normal (this translates to an extra Behavior die and one less Survival die). Note that only one Developmental Advantage may be taken and only when the dinosaur has reached a minimum age of Adult.

    Monstrous: treat Stamina as if one Size larger
    Fleet-footed: treat Speed as if one Size smaller
    Ingenious: treat Skill as if one Age category higher

    Immense dinosaurs cannot choose the Monstrous Advantage.
    Tiny dinosaurs cannot choose the Fleet-footed Advantage.
    Ancient dinosaurs cannot choose the Ingenious Advantage.

    Mesozoic Theatre
    Here are a few plot ideas for games of Tooth & Claw:

    A tribe of herbivores is under the thumb of some bullies.  A few herbivores are sent out into the wilderness to find big carnivores to help them fight the bullies.

    A clutch of eggs is in danger from predators.  But the parents are dead!  Who will protect them?  You will!  Bring them to a safe place.

    Follow up story #1 – Malicious dinosaurs destroy the eggs.  You must exact revenge!

    A rogue, outcast from his own tribe, comes into town.  He challenges the elder of your tribe (a relative of yours), kills him and takes over.  He’s mean.

    Follow up story #1 – The rogue brings in his cronies and they subjugate the tribe.  You revolt!

    Follow up story #2 – The rogue brings in his cronies and they subjugate the tribe.  You are forced to flee!

    Follow up story #3 – A volcano is going to erupt!  The rogue doesn’t believe this will happen and you move the tribe to a safe place without the rogue or his cronies finding out.

    You and your friends have ticks and the tick birds that used to eat them are no longer around because you have moved to a new place.  Find the tick birds, or find another way to heal yourselves.

    There is a terrible drought but a wise shaman has seen a fire in the sky that can help bring rain.  Find the sky-sphere and bring it to him (unfortunately, it’s near the lava flow).

    An evil dinosaur kidnaps the chieftain’s mate and you must help to find her.

    The meat-eating Jungle Lord demands a tribute. Do you do as he wishes or fight him? Or is there another way?

    Follow up story #1 – The Jungle Lord is found slain. Who killed him? And what is going to happen to you now that he’s no longer there to keep away all the other carnivores?

    The local tribe has no breeding females but the tribe the next valley over DOES.  Try to persuade some females to join your tribe.

    You have a personality conflict with another dinosaur from your tribe and one of you is next in line for the position of chieftain.  Then the chieftain dies…what happens?

    A powerful female Knife-Tooth cannot bear young so the she tricks males into stealing other Knife-Tooth eggs…then kills the males. The Knife-Tooth elder needs your help.

    Blood Madness strikes the tribal guardian and he goes on a rampage! You can either kill him (allowing enemies to attack) or restrain him and find a cure.

    Dinosauria Online

    Walking with Dinosaurs

    Sue (the most complete T-Rex ever found)

    Dinosaur Museum

    You can also use to find more dinosaur-related material on the web.

    Title: Songs of Distant Spheres Part 4
    Post by: ADGBoss on May 16, 2003, 03:58:32 AM
    Chapter THREE:

    System: Target 15

    Song Creation and Resolution

    Songs are mental and emotional vibrations that create a physical or Real effect.  That is they can alter Space, Time, or Perception.  Twentieth and Twenty First century psychics were using these vibrations without knowing it.  Malganorn apparently have evolved to level that use of the Songs is second nature to them.  Humans, in the form of The Gifted, are only now evolving to that state.

    3.1 Song Resolution

    Songs are resolved just like Skills but there are a few exceptions of note.  During a moment, a Persona may use only 1 Song for one of its 3 Actions. The Persona may not use 3 Songs, though the song technically counts only as 1 action. The Persona may choose to perform two other actions as normal.  

    Results may very and will sometimes lay outside the normal function of the game.  For instance, the powerful Song of Maybe pushes everyone one back in time 1 Moment to allow for a different action or Resolution to the problem.  This is strange and the GM needs to read all Song descriptions carefully before running a game of SODS.

    Songs also may have a cost associated with their use.  Certain songs require the sacrifice of either Health or Sanity on a temporary basis for the Song to be activated.  Each Song
    Critical Failure of Songs

    When a natural 1 is rolled when trying to activate a Song that tends to be bad for the Persona trying to use that Song.  Immediately they lose a point of Sanity.  Then they roll 1d6.  That is how many hours the Persona loses the ability to activate that particular Song.

    3.2 Song Creation

    The Process of creating a Song is fairly simple and requires the expenditure of POE.  The process is outlined below.

    1.   Discuss Song with GM, make sure it does not duplicate another Song, and mark off 15 POE.
    2.   Choose Basic Effect.  What is basic purpose of this Song? What affect does it accomplish?
    3.   Song Cost.  This is trickiest part of the process.  In general if a Song does physical or mental damage, then it costs the Persona using the Song 1 point of Health or Sanity per 2d6 of damage.  If it warps the Physical universe, gates into another universe and any weird stuff like that, the GM should try and come to a fair Health or Sanity cost.

    A Persona may teach his new Song to other Personas, both Player and GM controlled as long as they pay the requisite Experience.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Mike Holmes on May 16, 2003, 05:40:57 AM
    Well, last day, and I just wanted to say again how impressed I am with what I've seen already. I assume there will be a bit more last minute posting today, but we've already got a very strong field. I just wanted to thank everyone for their efforts in making this a success again, and say that I'm looking forward with great relish to the judging.


    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodspong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 16, 2003, 07:25:53 AM

    Odin: Ruler of the gods, patron of kings and berserkers.
    Thor: God of thunder, patron of warriors.
    Ull: God of hunting.
    Freya: Goddess of beauty and fertility.
    Baldr: God of beauty.
    Heimdall: Guardian god of Bifrost.
    Vidar: God of silence.


    There is an additional type of magic, the magical items of the Svartalfs. These are finely crafted items of higher Scale. For each success when introducing a dwarf-crafted item, the player may raise the item's Scale by +1, provided it is no higher than the Signature rating (or another appropriate Trait) of the crafter.

    Using Sphere Traits

    Volcano and Glacier replace the Tone modifier of cunning. For each action that is in line with the theme of Volcano or Glacier, the Player or Guide may add the appropriate rating from that character's home Sphere.

    Characters gradually acclimate to the Volcano and Glacier ratings of the Sphere they stay in. Upon entering a Sphere, the characters Volcano and Glacier ratings are those of their home Sphere. Every 9 days, those ratings move 1 point each toward the rating of the Sphere they stay in.

    The Prosperity Trait of their home Sphere determines the quality of the equipment the PCs start with. At Prosperity 0, they have nothing. At Prosperity 3, they have equipment equal to Dark Ages Europe: chainmail, steel weapons, and a sailing ship. AtProsperity 6, all their equipment is dwarf-crafted.

    Title: Tooth & Claw: Addendum
    Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 16, 2003, 08:49:18 AM
    One paragraph that I forgot to add to the main text:

    Environmental Hazards
    Drowning, falling, fire and disease are all handled by an opposed roll between the dinosaur's Survive Behavior and the severity of the hazard (1 die for a minor hazard, 5+ dice for truly terrible hazards). Note that this is just to resist injury. To escape from a raging river, for example, a Move roll must be made (keeping in mind that successes from Survive can roll over as bonus Move dice).

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 16, 2003, 09:09:25 AM
    More Errata

    Setting Blood and Song

    There was a descrepancy on how to create a character's Blood and Song Traits initailly. Defining Blood and Song uses the Action Resolution mechanics. Default for each is 1.

    More on Scale

    Ordinary Scale
    Area Effect: 1x(number of Successes) foot sphere
    People: Single person

    Heroic Scale
    Area Effect: 10x(number of Successes) foot sphere
    People: Small group of people

    Epic Scale
    Area Effect: 100x(number of Successes) foot sphere
    People: Crowd

    Godly Scale
    Area Effect: 1000x(number of Successes) foot sphere
    People: City

    Plot Hooks

    Raiders from a Volcano:3 Sphere are raiding the PC's home Sphere. Can the PCs stop them?

    Jotuns Triumphant
    The PCs come upon a Sphere where Asgard has fallen and giants roam Midgard. The gods have mysteriously disappeared. What will the PCs do?

    In the Shadow of Ragnarok
    The PCs come up a Sphere on the verge of Ragnarok and with no knowledge of Bloodsong. People approach the PCs and ask them to take them to safety. Unfortunately, the PCs can only carry a small group out of the Sphere. What will happen?

    Title: Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong ot the Spheres
    Post by: Palaskar on May 16, 2003, 09:17:28 AM
    Even more Errata


    Default Sphere is New Midgard, Volcano: 0, Glacier:0, Prosperity:6.

    Where is all the equipment?

    Players are expected to introduce equipment, allies, etc. in play. This is done by using an Action Resolution check versus the appropriate PC's Signature. Thus, a Warrior is more likely to have a sword than, say, a priest.

    Remember that Successes determine the degree of effect. So if you wanted to introduce a weapon, 3 Successes might net you a greatsword, 2 a battleaxe, 1 a dagger, and so on.

    How do I run combat?

    Use an Action Resolution check. For example, if a player says, "I swing my sword at his head, trying to behead him!" and gets 3 Successes, the opponent is obvious dead. 2 Successes, and the opponent is wounded. 1 Success, and he is grazed. 0 Succeses, the PC misses.

    If the player wishes his charcter to subdue or knockout his opponent, the mechanic is the same.

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 16, 2003, 09:24:48 AM
    Sign in Strangerformerly: song of the blood moon.

    Mechanics in depth:  World Exploration

    Alien World Element Establishment
    When the characters arrive at their new home, the players begin describing the world in strange and nonsensical terms.  The Modes chosen determine the areas that each player is responsible for describing.  Go about settling in the characters to their new life, and as each aspect of the daily necessities of living  come up, the player whose Sphere each process or object falls into narrates an intentionally obscure or bizzare description of an Alien World Element (AWE).  A 2-3 word encapsulation is written beneath the corresponding Mode.  The person who creates each element should not have an explanation in mind.  This will be established through the interaction of the characters with each Alien World Element. Each AWE is considered unsolved until an Interpretive roll for it has been successfully accomplished.

    Species: Sxosia
    Planet: Sxos
    Mode: Transportation
    short desc: enveloped by gelatinous goo (unsolved)

    longer narration: Every so often Sxosians swimming about in the atmosphere become enveloped by a large cloud of gelatinous goo which speeds away with them.

    Task Resolution
    Task resolution in this game is accomplished by a simple Pool type mechanic.  All rolls are on 6-sided dice, and successes are generally accomplished by rolling a "1" on at least one of the d6's.  

    Anyone may call for a roll on a task.  The person whose Sphere a task falls into will Oversee the task resolution process.  If it's the same person as the player making the rolls, another player is chosen randomly. The Overseer may declare the task trivial (in which no dice need to be rolled and success is automatic), or give a bonus die if the task is easy, but the character has no related skill.  

    For all non-trivial tasks, a player gets one die to roll, and may roll a number of additional d6's equal to the level of a skill on their character sheet. The skill must relates to the task, and the Overseer may rule out the use of a skill, with the support of the other players.

    The outcome may be narrated by anyone who wishes to do so, with the player whose character is taking the action having first chance to narrate, then the player whose Mode the action falls under having second. If no-one chooses to narrate it, someone should be chosen randomly by a die roll to do so.  

    "Smell" Rolls
    Before a character may attempt any task that involves an unsolved Alien World Element or brings the character into the presence of a member of an alien species, a "Smell" roll  must be made.  This involves the repulsive trait of the attribute pair assigned to all alien species.  The player must roll a number equal to or under the value of the character's "song" points.

    Take the following example:

    song O O O O O O smell
    *summer with whales

    This character has one song point and 5 smell points.  In order to interact with a Sxosian, comfortably, the player must roll a "1" on one six-sided die.  If the character had 2 song points, then the "Smell" Roll would be successful on a 1 or a 2. Characters with zero "Song" points Panic automatically when they come into the presence of an alien.  A panicking character cannot attempt a task resolution roll, and should be role-played appropriately (ie. vomit, faint, run, etc.)  Failure other than Panic means the player may attempt the task, but may not use any of their skills to accomplish it.

    Interpretive Rolls
    Interpretive rolls are used to solve Alien World Elements.  A character must have just made successful "Smell" and task resolution rolls in conjunction with the AWE in question.  Roll 1d6 and succeed on values equal to or less than the character's "song" points.  If the roll fails, that explanation is ruled out.  A different ones must be tried in future, by whomever attempts them.

    Human Interaction
    When two humans interact that have a difference in their "Song" points greater than 3 (equal to 4-6 points), the one with the lower points must make a "smell" roll to avoid acting agressively or fearfully towards the human with the higher points.

    There's a bit more to come....


    Title: Song of the Blood spheres (Combat & errata info)
    Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 16, 2003, 11:05:11 AM

    As Mr. Holmes approaches, eyes full of stern fire, gauntleted hand holding the pad-lock of time constraint, a grating whisper comes out of the hush of voices from across the room where the Iron Game Chefs stand, each putting the final garnishes on their own dishes.

    "But, Kester, what about hit points and character death?"

    Kester turns, a sad look in his eye, "Well if you absolutely must divert from the story to have such rules. . ."

    First, the game has no "Hit Points", per se.  Rather characters will loose dice from their action dice pools.  For instance:

    Grof, Sword Fighting 2, encounters a Fire Harpy, Claw Attack 1.  Grof can choose to split his attack into two 1D rolls or attack with full 2D vs. the Harpy.  Difficulty Factor should be set by either the GM or group consensus, in this case let us say that hitting the Fire Hardy is assessed as a DF 9 (on foot) and a DF of 12 (when flying).  Quite the task for Grof!

    This means that Grof has to roll a 13 or better (remember all rolls have to be ABOVE the actual TN) to hit the Harpy if she is flying, an obvious impossibility for poor Grof.  Luckily she is not flying, alas Grof's player decides to invest only 1D in the attack and thus rolls a 7.  Ah, Grof, why did you attack that Fire Harpy!


    Degree of Success

    Degree of success (or failure) is assessed by how many points above (or below) the actual TN the player rolls for their character's action. In the example above Grof failed by 5.  That’s a fairly wide margin.  The interpretation of which is up to the GM or group consensus to determine.  In this case the GM decides that the Harpy, being a fierce and fearsome creature, forces Grof to roll a Trait Check vs. Courage.

    Trait Checks

    All Trait Check rolls are made using a D6 and are rolled against the CURRENT Trait score.  In the case of Grof this means his player must roll a 4 or better on D6 or suffer the loss of 1D from Courage.

    Grof's player rolls a 5 and sighs audibly.  However this isn't the end, the Harpy Still has her 1D claw attack.  The GM rolls a 6 on behalf of the Harpy.  Since the GM has also declared the same 'on foot' DF of 9 applies to Grof this means the Harpy's Claw Attack has failed, by a factor of 4.  Grof stands his ground and decides to counter with the remaining 1D of Sword Fighting, rolling a 6.  Again his player made the Trait Check

    Obviously this could go on ad infinitim, ad nauseum, but Grof's player decides to take a chance and use all the Courage dice in his action pool to try and scare the Harpy away at the last minute.

    Grof's player rolls a 15.  The GM decides that, after the abortive attacks, the Harpy has thus decided she has no clear edge and has (apparently only just remembering her ability to fly) withdrawn. Perhaps for good, but then again maybe to get more Harpies, either way Grof is now free to take to his heels and flee the area; if that is the action his player decides he should take.

    Errata & Misc.

    Overall the game is meant to simulate actions with quick and easy dice rolls.  Keep it simple.  If in doubt defer to the group, keeping in mind that the Game Master is there to be the final arbiter of disputes.  You don’t have to agree with them, or even like their rulings, but so long as they are consistent and keep the game running smoothly try not to take it too personally.  After all in Ubel They the GM could have been you!

    Hero Points

    These are very important.  For every heroic action a Hero successfully accomplishes they will gain Hero Points.  The minimal amount of Hero Points gained is 1 HP and the maximum is 6, based on a random fortune die roll.  This ‘fortune’ die applies to everyone.  Even the Knight Templar character.  At the start of play no character should have any Hero Points.  In fact there shouldn’t even be a place for recording them on the Hero Sheet until the character earns the right to record them.

    During the typical game session characters should amass enough HP to raise their base action Trait and Skill die pools at least once.

    The cost of increasing the current Skill die pool is based on a quick and simple formulae as follows: 10 HP * current die pool.  Thus if Grof’s player wanted to raise their Intimidation skill from 1D to 2D they would have to expend 10 Hero Points to do so.  To raise the same skill to 3D they would have to later expend 20 Hero Points, and so on.

    Note: The Skill Die Pool must be raised linearly from 1D to 2D to 3D and etcetera.  

    However to raise a Trait die pool the cost is a flat 50 Hero Points per die.  Thus if Grof’s player wanted to raise their current Will score from 2 to 4 they would have to expend 100 HP to do so.


    Kester steps back, glances at the platters displayed on the table before him, and shakes his head.  The competition is steep and not everyone is playing fair.  But, he realizes, such is life.  Still, Pompeii and Dinosaurs, how can his traditional fantasy spices compete with that?

    Hmm, maybe a virgin sacrifice. . . or two.   ;)

    Happy Gaming!

    Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
    Post by: Emily Care on May 16, 2003, 12:55:37 PM
    Sign in Stranger formerly Song of the blood moon.

    This game has been developed in the following posts:
    Introduction (
    Game background (
    Overview of game (
    Character Establishment (
    World Exploration (

    Mechanics in depth:  Character Development

    Increasing Skills
    Character skills may increase over time with use.  Both skills from the character's life on Earth, and those acquired from training on the Moon.  The first two times a skill is used for a roll--whether or not the attempt was successful or not--make marks after the skill recording the use: two successive slashes ("\" and "/") to make an "X".  Circle the "X" the next time the skill is used for a roll that has a successful resolution.  Once three circled-X's are complete, the skill goes up one point.  

    Acquiring Personality Traits
    The personality traits are simply words or phrases written on the lines below the Second Question on  the Character sheet ("What are you like?").  The player writes down 2 or 3 during character creation. Examples would be: "short temper", "obsessive about cleanliness", "hardworking".  During the course of play, players may suggest character traits describing the characters of other players.  A given character's player may reject a Personality Trait, but not suggest one for their own.  Personality traits have no score assigned to them.

    Raising "Song" type or Insight Points
    Each character has a score associated with the Attractive Attribute of the Species' attribute pair, which has been described as the "song" type points after the attribute from the example species, the Sxosians.  This may be known as the character's Insight.  Insight points increase as the character has more interaction with members of a given species, their society and world.  It reflects increasing understanding and empathy for members of the alien species.

    In order to attempt to increase this score, the player of the character in question describes a memory from the character's life that they feel may give the character insight and connection to the aliens.  A number of dice is rolled equal to the number of Personality Traits that the character exhibits in the memory.  A currently occuring situation may also be used as a catalyst for "song" point increase, and the same conditions apply.  This roll is Overseen by another player--determined randomly, or by the the person whose Sphere most closely relates to the events being described as giving Insight--who rules on whether the Personality Traits do indeed relate to the event or memory.  The acting player then rolls.   A number of ones equal to the character's Insight is required to be rolled.  If not enough are rolled in the first attempt, the number rolled is recorded and that many additional dice is added to the pool the next time an attempt is made.  

    Each character may begin play with one "song" point.  Each point will be associated with a memory from the character's life, or an event that happens during play that signifies an aspect of the character's life experience gives them insight into the alien species.  A second point may be attempted after 3 successful Interpretive rolls have been made by the character's player. The third after 3 more. The fourth and fifth must have 6 successful Interpretations made, and for the final, the character's player needs to make successful Interpretive roll in each of the Modes for the species.  

    Suffering Harm
    Damage may be a consequence of any action, to humans, aliens or property.  The group should discuss beforehand what level of character mortality they are interested in having.  Make an explicit agreement, and be flexible to this changing over time as the group decrees.  

    There are no levels to bodily harm.  If a character is hurt, incorporate the injury into play and let a reasonable amount of time elapse for healing.  All attempts to treat the disease or  for the character to seek healing should be handled as any other task. Healing, and Religion may be included as additional Modes.  If Healing is included, damage suffered to characters would be addressed like any other task, and rolls to treat the character would be Overseen by the holder of that Mode.

    My compliments to all my esteemed adversaries.  It has been a pleasure to cook test myself against your skill this day.   Thanks to our host and judge, Mike-san, for encouraging us and helping us acheive our potential in the heat of the kitchen.  

    The spirit of the Forge Gaming Arena has again caused inspiration to be born.  Good luck to us all!

    Emily Care

    Title: In Your Element, Out of this World
    Post by: Le Joueur on May 16, 2003, 01:14:20 PM
    In Your Element, Out of this World


    This game was written and diagramed by Fang Langford.  All artwork that appears is by his partner, co-writer, editor, and wife, Caro Langford.

    This is a game where you play powerful Elemental Masters, Dueling over your personal Difficulties in the Corona Realms outside of reality.  You will control amazing Elemental beings in terrifying clashes, Dueling over even the smallest of slight!

    This game takes place in real life, your real life.

      The only materials you need in order to play is an empty journal.  Through it you will reinterpret real life events into in-game material.  It can be as detailed or as sketchy as you desire; the only one who will be reading it is you.  Please decorate it and doodle on it as much as possible (or as normal for you); personalizing it goes along way towards making the game better.[/list:u]
    Inventorying Your Character

      The first thing you need to do in order to play is to 'take inventory' of yourself.  Start on the third page or so of your journal and just scribble out some notes about what's most important to you or affects you the most.  List any 'big problems' that come to mind.  (While you may want to censor some of this material for play, right now you're brainstorming; nothing says you can't tear these pages out after you finish your 'inventory.')  Try to keep it brief, like a series of bullet points on a list of 'who I am.'

      That was fun, right (like pulling your own teeth)?  Now go back through this looking for what you need to play (crossing out anything that will remain private and 'out of play').  Don't worry if it isn't 'good enough' for anyone else, just be as detailed as you feel.  This isn't a competition, it's an exhibition; please, no wagering.  Please don't 'make stuff up,' but feel free to lie to yourself (this is only a game after all).  What you are looking for are things to list on the first page of your journal as your 'Difficulties.'

    Your Difficulties

    These are the things 'that occupy your time.'  They might be preoccupations, recurrent stumbling blocks, or even character flaws (if you're in the mood to be brutally honest), what matters is that they are 'what fills your life with meaning (good or bad).'  Any that force you into conflict with people, your surrounding, and your situation are all the better.

    Now pick out as many as five of the most interesting ones (for playing this game), each in one of these categories (arranged however you want):

      Your assets: this includes 'what you own,' but try to think in terms of 'spheres of influence' and beyond too.

      Your values: these are the things that matter to you; if two conflict, list them together.

      Your preferences: this is whatever you desire, but not specifically; you want lemon pie, not
    that lemon pie.  These include things you find most pleasing when you interact with them, but don't necessarily impel you to 'get them.'

    Your passions: this is anything that 'fuels your fire,' including things you can't help but do.

    Your uniqueness: this is the content of your character and the Difficulties that it creates; the things that set you apart and how they complicate your life.[/list:u]
    Remember that you are looking for Difficulties based on these areas.  Not only that but hopefully some of the 'bigger ones.'  Each of these categories matches up with an Elemental type.  Some simple guidelines or examples include:

      Assets are the Element of
    Sphere - This is the struggle for 'stuff' or influence.  Too much causes gluttony; too little creates helplessness.  (Spheres of influence would include how you influence 'your stuff,' as extensions of you, right?  The earth would be the greatest of all Spheres.)

    Values are the Element of Blood - This is the struggle with your priorities.  Too much is greed, too little is ennui.  ("Blood is thicker than water" has always meant to me that family is more important; this is about values then.)

    Preferences are the Element of Song - This is the struggle against 'rapture.'  Too much causes lust; too little is too much meaninglessness.  (A Song is aesthetic, it is beautiful, and it is highly subjective; air without Song is just wind.)

    Passions are the Element of Volcano - This is the struggle between 'control' and your passions.  Too much could be wrath; too little is sloth.  (Heat so hot that it does more than burn, that it melts the very rock and causes vast eruptions of destruction, that is what I call passion!  Anything less is only fire.)

    Uniqueness is the Element of Self - This is the struggle to be noticed and different (enough).  Too much is hubris, too little results in envy.  (Anyone who has no sense of Self matters little more than the ether.)[/list:u]
    Once you've picked as many as five of these out from your 'page three notes,' list each one, with its Element, on the first page after your name.  Rate these Difficulties (from 1 to 10) based upon how much they impact your life and thinking.  Be honest!  The only person you could be cheating here is yourself.  (And the fact that the higher the rating, the more vulnerable you are to influence in the absence of mystical protection.)

      Let me see, looking over my journal, I'd say I can find five pretty obvious difficulties.  (Hey, the game calls for honesty, let's use the real thing!)

      For Sphere, that's easy; in my family and my line of work, I've got this bad habit of expecting all responsibilities to 'get things done' to ultimately fall on my shoulders.  If no one else does it, I expect myself to.  I guess the root of this is to avoid the feeling of powerlessness versus things I cannot 'fix.'  Over the years, it has taught me a broad range of skills and now I succeed much more often than I fail, but at the personal cost of being stressed out about 'too much to do and not enough help.'  Let's call that, "The Buck Stops Here" and rate it at...say a 3.

      In the Blood Element, my passion lays in examining communications.  I almost always assume the literal interpretation of what people say to me and I've got this credo that 'if it was worth saying, it is worth hearing.'  A lot of this is probably attributable to my Asperger's Syndrome (we're both very verbal and highly literal).  This one would be, "Literally a Problem" and I think I'm at about a 2 with it.

      With the Song Element, I'd say my main Difficulty is my overwhelming curiosity.  My parents forever sniped at me, "Curiosity killed the cat...."  (Until the day I discovered the rest of the saying, "...Satisfaction brought him back!")  I get into more trouble because I just wonder what something is, why someone does things, or how something got where it is.  Ultimately, I've become very good at deduction and ratiocination to supplant when I simply cannot 'check it out.'  I'm gonna leave this as, "Curiously Strong" and rate myself with a 7.

      My Volcano Element is obviously this bent I have for Aristotelian dialogue.  Very many people take this as a passion for arguing, but I'm rather clinical about it.  (I'm not surprised that people see it as such, many people who have too much Blood Element have 'aggression management' problems.)  I might title this one "Aristotle Would Be Proud" and give myself a, better make that a 5 as often as it controls me.

      The Self Element is one of the harder ones for many people.  I don't have that problem because I am so deliberate.  In fact, that's my Difficulty here: deliberateness.  I've yet to meet someone who was more deliberate than I, who wasn't also suffering from an obsessive/compulsive behaviour.  Unlike most of those, I'm deliberate in all things; that's right a type A control freak (as if that wasn't obvious).  Being able to manage so many details, this usually turns out to be a strength, rather than a problem; so let's call it, "Meticulously Deliberate" and rate it with a 5.  (A rule of thumb total comes to 22 with Self and Song taking up about 55% of my life; that sounds about right.)[/list:u]
      Each of these Difficulties results in an Elemental that you become the Master of through this game.  (But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.)

      The Rest

      You need two more things to round out your persona in the game.  Make a space for them after your Difficulties in your journal; they are Power and Standing.

      If you add up all the ratings from your Difficulties and multiply by 4, you get your 'starting' Power.  This is the same as when you make up all your Elementals, you could total all their points and get the same number.  Each Elemental is limited to 4 times the rating of its respective Difficulties for 'starting points' to create them.  As you practice and battle, your Power goes up, so leave room in your journal to make changes.

      The gameplay largely takes place in a 'nearby place' called the Corona (more later).  How vaunted you are in the Corona is your Standing.

      The Corona doesn't have qualities like distance and time; so neither does your reputation there.  Anyone who has been through a Duel or two will be able to 'see' your Standing just by looking at you while in the Corona (one reason there are so many disguises in the Corona).  When people discuss you, they vividly remember your Standing from the last time they met you (that's the nature of the Corona).

      (This does create the interesting effect that if your Standing starts to slip substantially, you can maintain your 'apparent Standing' by disguising yourself, because then, when you speak to someone, they are forced to act upon the Standing that they last remember.  That's what creates a social stigma around wearing disguises; think about what they mean about you.)

      Standing from the 'in the game' perspective is sustained as 'He beat So-and-so' or 'He runs away a lot' or 'He's a human typhoon;' for sake of the play of the game, keep track of your Standing with a number.  You gain one point for beating an evenly matched opponent (one who is within 10 points of your Power).  Beating someone in an unevenly matched Duel gets you an additional point of Standing for each 10 they are above you (1 for the first 10 when evenly matched, 2 for 11-20, 3 for 21-30, and so on).  Beating someone beneath you either doesn't affect your Standing at all (unless you act unfairly) or drives it further into the negatives (if you're at -1 and you beat up on some little guy, you go to -2).  Elemental Masters with negative standings are considered the same as criminals (they cheat, pick on weaker foes, and et cetera); other Elemental Masters usually steer clear of them or hunt them.

      You start each new journal with a Standing of 1 (continuations of another game carry over Standing and Power from your last journal).[/list:u](

      Your Elementals

        On page two of your journal, you will list the Elementals associated with your Difficulties (or maybe you'll start on the bottom of page one, I'm just more flawed so I didn't have a lot of room), their Stats, Statuses, and abilities.

        Let your mind wander, what we're looking for here are things that are cool or intriguing.  You don't have to use the Earth-Water-Air-Fire-Ether cues if you've got a better idea, it's more important to like what you choose.  These can be in just about any form that you can imagine moving itself or being carried.  A one or two word description ought to be a good enough name.  After the name, list what Element it serves - Sphere, Blood, Song, Volcano, or Self.  Below that you'll list each Elemental's five abilities (I'm getting ahead of myself, let's save that for later).

        While your Elementals do not represent some personification of each Difficulty, you can do that if you like (if everyone agrees that you did it best, you get 3 bonus points to create them with).

        This is easy (I designed the game after all).  My Sphere Elemental is a giant saber-toothed tiger skeleton composed of rusting iron scraps (with railroad spikes for saber-teeth), call it "Rusty the Saber-Toothed Tiger."  For Blood, I'll take a clockwork/steampunk insect, about 3' long in brass composed of many tinier bug-robots that can reconfigure into many different insectoid shapes (my favorite is the Scarab-backpack), call it, "Multi-Bug."  I'd like a beautiful life-sized marionette for my Song Elemental (call her "Marionette" or "Mario" for short).  Since I've been looking at my Warhammer 40K catalog again, I'd like a gatling-gun/sword combination for my Volcano Elemental (I love the look on people's faces when I pull that out of 'nowhere'); I'll just refer to it as my "Gatling Sword" in play.  Lastly, I think I'll draw upon my self-image for my Self Elemental and take a jester's cap, though I'm not sure how I'll use it in Duels yet.[/list:u]
        There are five kinds of Elementals:

          Symbol: Ball with Highlight
          Essence: Efficacy and resources; strength against it limits or prohibits it.
          Bests: Volcano (It's hard to covet what you already have: Gorging) & Self (Where you excel is a part of 'what makes you unique:' Authorization)

          Symbol: Red Droplet
          Essence: Priorities and responsibilities; strength against it causes discord and endangerment.
          Bests: Sphere (You don't keep what you don't value: Junkiness) & Song (What you value controls what appeals to you: Desires)

          Symbol: Musical Note
          Essence: Makes you do things; strength against it is interrupting it.
          Bests: Volcano (What appeals to you drives your passions: Seduction) & Sphere (What appeals to you affects 'what you are willing to sacrifice:' Enticement)

          Symbol: Triple tongue of Fire
          Essence: Motivations to do; strength against it saps, redirects, or stymies that.
          Bests: Blood (Your passions change what you value: Enrage) & Self (Where your passions lie is a lot of 'what makes you unique:' the Con Game)

          Symbol: Egyptian Eye
          Essence: Self-control and independence; strength against it interrupts its integrity.
          Bests: Song (Self-determination controls 'what appeals to you:' Freewill) & Blood ('What make you unique' defines 'what you value:' Integrity)[/list:u]
          Each Elemental has 'starting points' equal to the rating of the Difficulty it is 'connected to.'  These points are divided amoungst six Stats:

            SPD - Compared to the opponent Elemental's SPD to determine who goes first (the higher); for ties, the challenger goes first (also used to determine what rounds your opponent misses)
            STR - The base amount of damage done by any physical ability
            DEF - The amount of damage subtracted from a physical attack before applying it to the Elemental's HIT
            M STR - The base amount of damage done by any mystical ability
            M DEF - The amount of damage subtracted from a mystical attack before applying it to the Elemental's HIT
            HIT - the amount of damage the Elemental can take before being taken out of play

              Let's try my Marionette with her 28 'starting points.'  She's not strong nor terribly durable.  I'll save maybe 10 points for Elemental abilities, that leaves 18 (an average of 3 per Stat).  How about SPD 3, STR 1, DEF 2, M STR 6, M DEF 4, and HIT 2?  Sure she's toast in a hand-to-hand Duel, but I'll stick to mystical attacks (the specialty of alluring Song Elementals, right?)[/list:u]
              [/list:u]An Elemental is also described by differences from the generic 'object;' is it big, small, hardy, fast, cute, heavy, or et cetera?  Any such features you feel ought to be of obvious effect in Duels will cost as many points as they 'add' to whatever they affect.  For example, if your monster Elemental is 'big' that means it can add the points you spent on 'big' to any manual ability or attack that 'suits it.'  Having something like 'wings' is meaningless unless you spend a point on it (which would be taken instead as an ability granting Immunity to 'at hand' attacks made by Elemental that 'cannot reach.')  Being 'very small' with the idea that it makes them 'harder to hit' (remember all abilities succeed regardless) means that the Elemental starts every Duel as though it used the ability of 'shrinking' (which also cannot be directly negated except by 'growth-style' abilities) that Grants the Immunity to some attacks (use lowered accuracy rules).  This is also how you 'pay for special immunities' like a bat Elemental would be immune to Blind Status (each immunity costs 1 point).

                Multi-Bug is a little big and definitely kinda heavy, but I don't expect that to count in Duels.  It can have wings if I change it's shape, as a matter of fact, the reason I like the Scarab-backpack mode is because it gives me wings I can fly with; so those wings will costs me 1 point.  I think being made of metal, Multi-Bug will probably have armor against most physical blows, but that isn't all physical attacks, so I'll give him two more points of Def as armor rather than Def.

                Rusty the Saber-toothed is definitely big (1 point) and he has a 'Claw' ability (see below) so I'll spend another point for 'nasty claws and sabers.'  (I might even consider a 'Blood Poison' Secondary ability, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)[/list:u]
                Some Elementals also have 'problems' like 'too small' or 'no arms' or 'fragile,' these don't affect the cost of creating an Elemental (or the effects of their abilities), but should be noted for 'special circumstance play' during a Duel (more later).  It shouldn't be too hard to 'get around' such limitation in both construction and in Duels.

                  My Jester's Cap has no arms or hands (except if it can act like a giant glove) and no obvious eyes (it just 'sees mystically') so I'll take that as 2 problems.  (Though the '...eyes' thing might be a blessing with certain kinds of attacks that target eyes; normal 'blinding' abilities should still work, unless I spend a point on that immunity.)  I'm starting picture this 'flying hat,' so I'll have to spend another point on 'levitation' (but that'd go with the previous example).

                  My Gatling Sword is a little more complicated.  It obviously has laser-pointer-targeting-sight eyes, but no limbs or motive abilities.  I mean I could see it having a gyroscope that lets it 'stand up' and turn around, but I just can't see it traveling anywhere (not even 'rocket style' using ammo for thrust); that's a pretty hefty limitation except I seem myself wielding it most of the time.  (We just assume that attacks only hit it and miss me during a Duel, because I want this and I can't force others to lose Standing by cheating.)[/list:u]
                  Elemental Abilities:

                    Every Elemental can have as many as five abilities.  For each ability, spend at least one 'starting point' and list its specific Target and Effect aspects (some Effects need to be really specified); Additional Effects are optional (and cost one point each)

                    Self/Opponent - Does the ability work on 'us' or 'them.'
                    Single/Party/Area (good for 'accuracy impaired' situations) - How many are affected; 'Party' is good for healings
                    Stats/Statuses - Does it alter a Stat (like reducing HIT is doing damage) or a Status (like curing Paralyzing)

                    Change (Remove/Pilfer/Add) or Prevent (Target/Type/Natural) - What you do to the Stat or Status (Add STR as in growth or preventing Blindness)
                    Instant/Perpetual (quarter STR or M STR) - Does it work for only the next this or next round or is it until you swap

                    Additional Effects:
                    Amplifiers/Trade-Offs - An ability that causes another (single or 'classification') to increase in effect (like a area effect that doubles a specific type of attack for it's duration) or things like 'takes an extra turn before (or after) use' and 'self-inflicts this Status'
                    Secondary Effects - So the power does "X," does it also do "Y" 'on the side' (and costs a point more)

                    Most abilities do damage and have secondary effects, but a few only do these additional effects.  One is to change the SPD, STR, or DEF (including Mystical).  Another is to cause Status changes.  The Statuses are: Burned, Poisoned, Frozen, Bound, Attracted, Paralyzed, Confused, Weakened, Blinded, and Asleep (see the effects of these below).  All of these changes can be either to grant them or take them away and according to standard Target selection.[/list:u][/list:u]
                  Let's do Multi-Bug's abilities:
                                         Targets           Effects
                  Recreate   - Self, Single, Stat   Add, Instant
                  Blitzkrieg - Them, Single, Stat   Remove, Instant Amplifier (goes first)
                  Chaff      - Them, Area, Status   Add, Perpetual  Amplifier (stays past swap)
                  Dive Bomb  - Them, Single, Stat   Remove, Instant Secondary (flying Immunity)*
                  Web Shot   - Them, Single, Status Add, Perpetual  Amplifier (stays with Target)

                  * Trade-Off: During the first round, while flying, Multi-Bug is immune to attacks that can't reach him; attack hits second round

                  Recreate   1
                  Blitzkrieg 2
                  Chaff      2
                  Dive Bomb  2 (both immunity and Secondary Effect cost, but Trade-Off takes one back)
                  Web Shot   2
                     Total:  9

                  Ready for Play?

                    Not quite.  Before you start actually playing this with your group, you need a little 'background.'  The minimum is journaling everything 'significant' since you got up yesterday morning.  It might be better to do the major activities of the last week, but you shouldn't feel pressured to remember things you can't very well.  Starting your journal a week or so
                  before playing would be ideal, but...well, life may not permit.

                  Your Elementals are what protect you on a day-to-day basis from those of others.  Whenever you conflict with another person, the Difficulties in play empower the Elementals in battle nearby in the Corona (see below).  Should an Elemental be so 'taken out,' one quickly finds out that the other person will make good use of the related Difficulty to make them do whatever that person wants.  An example would be how the passions of a young man at a bar overwhelm the loneliness of a girl who didn't really want to go out with him.  You can imagine his Volcano Elemental savagely beating her Self Elemental, forcing her to 'do what he wants.'

                  The difference between you and great 'the uninvolved' masses is that you have not only learned ways to bring your other Elementals (and Difficulties) to bear in these conflicts (Elemental Usage), but also how to see into the Corona and go there (Elemental Mastery).  You can tell when wild Elementals seek to influence you and others (seemingly random urges).  This is the primary difference your journal should show from what really happens to you; you'll be making these kinds of editorial interpretations on everything worth noting.

                    Lessee, about a week ago, maybe more like ten days, I had a big argument with a couple of my friends.  It was a big blowout with much hurt feelings (at least on my part, I haven't spoken to them since).  I was talking about my Meticulously Deliberate and got a little to engaged with my Aristotle Would Be Proud Difficulty, but they completely misunderstood what I was talking about.  I know that I'm super-deliberate and at least one of them definitely is not, but I was surprised by how much he missed that.  Furthermore, it kinda hurt when the other jumped in and claimed he'd already had had my ideas, claiming they were already in print.

                    I came really close to calling it quits on these relationships permanently, but decided to give them both a second chance and try and explain it again (if I can keep the Aristotle Would Be Proud to a minimum).  Probably because my Curiously Strong lead me to check in on them.

                    In game terms, my Self Elemental (Jester's Cap) was Dueling with my friend's Song Elemental (I didn't see it in the Corona) when I lost control of my Volcano Elemental (Gatling Sword; this happens when yer not in the Corona and you're a novice like me) and it jumped into the Duel.  The other friend came in with his Self Elemental (probably to break it up or at least give us time to slow down), but it wound up having the reverse effect.  He's not playing the game, but I'd speculate his Self Difficulty is something like Ivory Tower or some such.  The first friend's Song Difficulty may be something like Likes Fighting (at least with me).

                    For the game, I might consider going over to the Corona and seeing why this happened.  I mean, the second friend's attack seemed unjustified and uncharacteristically harsh and categorical (although secretly there may be someone on the Corona using my Literally a Problem to make me perceive it that way).  If I were actually vindictive, rather than Aristotle Would Be Proud, I'd probably go over to the Corona and directly attack their Elementals in order to put them at a philosophical-thinking disadvantage when I make my attempt to re-explain what I meant, but I'm not.[/list:u]
                    Those 'Nearby' Spaces

                    The reason you don't see people's Elementals romping around the street everywhere is because they don't exist.  That's right, they're a type of entity that cannot exist in or interact directly with the real world (or you'da noticed them by now).  No, they appear in a place 'really, really, close' to reality.  In the wild, they appear in realms congruent with their types, but even those are incredibly close to ours.

                    These places are called Corona because they exist as like a 'skin effect' where reality touches the Elements of the universe.  Not every one of these will be Volcanic caves or Song-filled fields, the actual character of the personification of the Element can be quite eccentric.  The real trick of it is that everything in the Corona is a direct analog of things in the same place in reality.  (Even though two locations don't match up in terms of travel relativity between them in the Corona, each one matches to a place in reality.)  If there's a chair in a room in reality, there'll be something in the same spot in the Corona.  Some personifications in the Corona can be eerily similar to their real world analogs, but have some noticeable (if you know what to look for) thematized difference (outside of the absence of people - their [insert proper type of] Elemental holds their analogous positions).

                      The Clockwork laboratory: This one suits Multi-Bug to a "T."  Every 'real world' room you go into is decorated (overlaid onto the reality furnishings) in early Universal Monsters: Frankenstein's Lab; there are electric-zap toys and steam pipes everywhere.  The floors aren't well swept with bits and pieces of hundred of tiny watchwork inventions everywhere.  Outside, all streets are fog-shrouded and dark, with the smell of coal fire and decay permeating everything.  Streets are cobbled and plants are wilted.  This is my apartment in the Blood Elemental Corona.  If I fight to dominate my whole building, unbeknownst to my 'uninvolved' neighbors, their apartments will take on that aspect as well.  If I manage to 'take over' the whole neighborhood, just think of the fun; but that's where a Sphere Difficulty can put you on the road to titanic conflict with much more powerful Elemental Masters.[/list:u]


                        Every Duel is one on one; one Elemental Master with one Elemental versus one Elemental Master with one Elemental.  Only one Elemental may be employed
                      at any one time, but swapping is okay (see below).  (Otherwise it isn't a Duel it's cheating.)

                      Fairness issues are important (especially to Standing).  Dojo Duels (more later) always have a referee; most other Duels do too.  This is usually another player who 1) counts the rounds out loud - which is very important at times - and 2) remarks upon questionable tactics.  Attacking an Elemental Master bodily is considered unfair and will force the attacker to lose Standing regardless how the Duel turns out.  Anything else that might be considered cheating (in game or out) has the same effect.

                      'Special circumstances' often come up as a result of the arena the Duel is fought in (indoor Duels prevent flight abilities, and et cetera); usage of such only really affects the opportunity to use an ability, but should be watched carefully for cheating.  (Hiding to heal is one common acceptable action, much like flying to 'stay out of reach.')  Surprise during a Duel is unfair and any Duel that begins with surprise automatically costs the challenger Standing.  (Things like 'tunneling' don't result in surprise, but instead give the attacker one round of complete immunity to all abilities before they attack; this can be handy with a slow Elemental because the opponent will not be able to attack first - or at all during that round - due to the 'tunneling.')

                      Duels are handled as a series of Rounds.  During each Round:[/list:u]
                          • The referee (or anyone acting as time keeper) announces the Round number.
                          • Elemental Master's Actions are resolved first: Swap, Heal, Status, or Rout (and takes the place of that Master's Elemental's action)
                          Example: My Rusty Saber-Toothed Tiger has taken a lot of damage lately, I decide to forgo his turn and Heal him; I burn 2 points and his HIT goes up 10 points or to full, whichever is lower.

                          • Determine whose Elemental is faster (has the higher SPD or perpetual ability in effect that gives them 'first go' or ability whose Additional Effect is to go first) - resolve their action first
                          Example: This Round, I have Multi-Bug use his Blitzkrieg ability, which means even though his opponent has a higher SPD, the Blitzkrieg goes off first (and as usual I find myself wishing I'd taken the Trade-Off where I must burn a point of Power and the damage is doubled, because he faces a Volcano Elemental).

                          • There are no misses (except when affected by accuracy limiting abilities - those abilities fail on Rounds whose number is a multiple of the possessor's SPD)
                          Example: I know that if that Volcano Elemental hits my Multi-Bug, it'll run down his HIT in only a could of rounds, even with the 'Armor' he has.  I use Chaff this round to make him harder to be hit; it changes the Volcano Elemental's Status to Blind and that means on every turn divisible by 6 (his SPD) he can hit Multi-Bug; this'll by me a little more time to 'take him out.'

                          • Finally, resolve slower combatant's action
                          • Make sure that both journals are updated with Stat and Status changes and go on to the next round.[/list:u][/list:u][/list:o]
                              At the moment an Elemental
                            HIT gone, that Elemental is 'taken out' of play (returning to the person of the Elemental Master - where did you think they were, just hanging around?).  An Elemental may not be actually destroyed until two conditions are met: the Difficulty associated with it must be transcended and it's Master must 'let it go.'  A replacement Elemental may be 'sent out' at this point sacrificing a turn (just like any Master Action).

                              Example: I've just about 'taken out' my foe's current Elemental, but I expect him to swap to the one, that can do a 'Refresh' on his whole Team.  To stop this I use the 'Taunt' ability I gave Rusty the Saber-Toothed Tiger; it prevents my opponent from using Swap as long as Rusty and his current Elemental stay in play.  (This is one of the more intriguing Prevention Effects you can make up.)[/list:u]
                              Almost every aspect of Duel may have an ability that trumps it.  All the Abilities, Statuses, Stat changes, and even Elemental Master Actions can be stopped by a Prevention Effect or reversed by a Change Effect.  You can also force any of these using Change Effect.  (Imagine forcing them to repeat their last action or making it so that they can only use Attacks.)

                                Example: Rusty the Saber-Toothed uses a 'Roar' ability to force my foe to Swap Elementals (scaring his Elemental 'away') instead of attacking.[/list:u]

                                Each Element is strong against two others; any effect it has upon the subject is doubled (except Status changes).  Effects in reverse of this are halved.  Abilities used by an Elemental of the same Elemental type as it is are also doubled.

                                  Sphere is strong against Volcano and Self.
                                  Blood is strong against Sphere and Song.
                                  Volcano is strong against Blood and Self.
                                  Song is strong against Volcano and Sphere.
                                  Self is strong against Song and Blood.[/list:u][/list:u]

                                      This means if a Blood Elemental uses a Sphere type ability with against a Volcano Elemental it does double the effect.  If the Song Elemental had used a Song type ability against the same Sphere Elemental, the effect is quadrupled.  A Volcano type attack from a Volcano Elemental against that barely-hanging-on Sphere Elemental does regular damage.[/list:u][/list:u]

                                        Burned and Poisoned - Do damage each round, equal to ¼ of STR or M STR for that attack (often used as a Secondary effect to fire or poison-based attacks)
                                        Frozen and Bound - Halts all physical abilities (if the Elemental has to move to use the ability, it fails)
                                        Attracted and Paralyzed - Any ability usage fails on Rounds with numbers equal to the multiple of the Elemental's SPD.  (The abilities of the Attracted Elemental only fail versus the opponent; things like self-inflicted abilities work fine.)
                                        Confused - When the Round's number is equal to a multiple of the slower Elemental's SPD the ability used by that Elemental acts upon the unintended Elemental/Team/Area.

                                          Example: I say I'm going to have Multi-Bug use 'Recreate' to shrug off his M STR in HIT.  My opponent reminds me that, as this is an even round and his Elemental's SPD is 2, Multi-Bug's is Confusion Status means it goes the other way.  If I'd been paying more attention, I wouldn't wind up healing his Elemental for M STR.  Yes, slower Elementals benefit from having Confusion Status affecting abilities.[/list:u]
                                          Weakened - Cuts STR or M STR is cut in half until the Status is reversed
                                          Blinded - Works like Attracted as well as on "Special Circumstances" requiring sight
                                          Asleep - Stops all ability use by the sleeping Elemental (except those with the Trade-Off of 'only works while asleep;' good strategy for Elementals who recover HIT by 'napping')[/list:u]
                                          Elemental Master's Actions - Use of these always forgoes the action of that Master's Elemental that round.

                                            Swap - Switch to a different Elemental from team (make it in your journal any way you like)
                                            Heal - Burn one Power point (temporarily) per 5 points replaced (for whatever Stat)
                                            Recover - Burn 5 Power points (temporarily) to return 'taken out' Elementals to battle with ½ their normal HIT
                                            Status - Burn one Power point (temporarily) to remove one Status irregularity
                                            Rout - The player and his Elementals run away (no parting shots allowed in 'fair combat' - unfair tactics brand the user with Standing loss - like running away does)[/list:u]
                                            Power can be regained at a school, dojo, healing spring, in reality, or anything else the gamemaster comes up with (along these lines, see below).

                                            Elemental Masters Duel for a variety of reasons.  Prior to every Duel make sure you know what the result will be.  Some Duels are over property and such, these stakes are easy to determine.  Other Duels are a result of bets which are the same.  In many cases, a Duel occurs out of a desire to 'show off;' one Elemental Master challenges another simply to raise their Standing and get bragging rights.  (Some Duels occur for no reason than practice and leveling up; this is why most locations of healing are heavily guarded - it prevents two people from going there and just Dueling and healing until they reach incredible power levels.)

                                            If a losing Elemental Master does not forfeit their stakes after the Duel, their Standing drops 5 points!  That's why forfeiting before a 'total loss' is better than just running away (being Routed); you only lose 1 point of Standing by losing or forfeiting.  Duelists can accept additional self-imposed restrictions on their Duels by mutual agreement (things like 'only two Elementals' or 'no using Power during the Duel').  Duels over 'high stakes' usually call for all Elementals to be employed and the loser has all of his 'taken out.'  (Make sure to note the Standing changes and stakes gained or lost in your journal.)[/list:u]

                                            The Rest part II


                                                Each Duel you win is marked in your journal and as a 'hash mark' next to each of the Elementals used in the Duel.  When you cross four 'hash marks' with a fifth, you may add or change one point of that Elemental's description.  You might add a point to a Stat, exchange a new ability for an old one (of the same cost), or increase the Elemental's Character.  Every Elemental begins play as a simple, relatively small or seemingly innocuous thing or creature; only being 'exercised' by an Elemental Master allows them to grow into complicated, intricate, or powerful beings (increase in Character).

                                                The amount of Character an Elemental has is the 'creative limit' on what abilities it might have.  In this game a change of Character requires a complete makeover.  You are not allowed to (for example) simply add wings to your dragon Elemental; it must change significantly (and in such a way not to invalidate the abilities it retains); so a four-legged terrestrial dragon might transform into a hippogriff.  A marionette might become a statuette or a shadow puppet.  There must be some thematic semblance between former and new Character (but not necessarily throughout the whole of the Elemental's life).  Only the Elemental's Master can determine what that change will be (but they can open the floor for suggestions); if it seems inappropriate either find a justification within the session (like capturing a new Elemental) or just razz them about it endlessly.  (Cheaters shouldn't be played with; don't bother penalizing them.)

                                                I Decide that it is high time I increased Jester's Cap's Character.  For one point, I have him transform into a Jester's Costume.  For a few more, he gains the ability to 'Tag Team Attack' with Gatling Sword for one Round (using Gatling Sword's DEF that round) without using a Swap.[/list:u]
                                                One technique of note, nothing here says that every fifth 'hash mark' must be a 'crossing' mark; you can have just as many groups of four as you like.  You can even cannibalize up to one clump of four to make as many others 'become crossed;' that way you can affect as many as four changes simultaneously (good for increasing Character or adding nasty abilities).  This is yet another development strategy.  (And don't forget that every crossed group adds one to the players Power.)[/list:u]

                                                  When someone opens a Portal into the Corona (the only way to get there from here), that person must to stay behind and act as an anchor.  Such a portal is created when you 'go over' and destroyed when you return.  Also an anchor can admit only one person or group into the Corona at a time.  This means no one can send themselves into the Corona.  If you exit someone else's portal, it is destroyed and whoever passed through it is lost.  No one can open a portal into 'the real world'
                                                from the Corona.

                                                A group should try to remain together or dire consequences will result upon the time of exit; if the group doesn't leave together, whoever is left behind is lost when the portal is destroyed.  If they don't have the proper Elemental for the Corona they're on, they get thrown to a Corona for which they do (losing all Power).  Without an anchor, they quickly drift about and get lost (while specific locations of Corona 'map' directly to places in reality, they don't share the same overall juxtaposition).  There is no way to tell where you are going from place to place because such spatial relationships don't 'make sense' over there; an anchor allows a 'traveler' to locate places in the planned physical locales, but travel in between them in the Corona is instantaneous.

                                                There is no limit to the number of Portals that may be opened at any real geographical point (short of 'how many doorways' would fit in the room), so you could pair off and send half the group on individual forays.  (See gamemastering below.)[/list:u]
                                                Dojos and Healing

                                                  It shouldn't be a surprise the number of people 'stranded' in the Corona.  One of the benefits is that you don't age; the drawback is that after a number of days equal to the person's Power, they acquire Elemental traits of their own (making them appear 'more than human') making it impossible for them to ever return.  Many of these people become experts of Elemental Mastery and open schools others 'take charge' of areas with special qualities, like healing springs (only places that 'contact with reality' has newly granted special qualities will be unguarded).

                                                  If you elect to subscribe to a school or dojo within the Corona, you may 'train' in the use of your Elementals.  This allows sparring; sparring is a special kind of Duel (only available to native Elemental Masters) where you may Duel with fewer than your entire team
                                                and you receive a 'hash mark' just as though you were in a 'real Duel.'  Furthermore, if the Duel takes place in the school or dojo specifically, all Elementals in this 'training Duel' are immediately healed afterwards.  Nearly all 'trainers' will only have these kinds of Duels with people who have accepted some kind of subscription terms (like 'loyalty to the school banner' or 'must return weekly' or anything else the gamemaster thinks up when they are asked); a few will allow 'championship Duels' of this kind with wandering Masters of special note or ability (but this is rare in the west).  Unlike normal Power recovery, if you add a fifth 'hash mark' while in a school or dojo, all of your Power is restored.

                                                Guardians are people (some of whom have gained so many Elemental traits that they almost appear to be Elementals themselves) who have chosen to remain in one location within the Corona, restricting access to it from travelers.  The most common is a healing spring; at a healing spring, not only are all of your Elementals returned to full Stat levels and no Status impairments, but you also get all of your Power back.  (This does not change the limit of time you can spend in the Corona, because that is gauged by you Power, but does not erode it.)  Some springs only restore Elementals of their type, but these are uncommon (both this restriction and those imposed by the guardian are complications meted out by the gamemaster, see below).  Very many healing springs take on the qualities of hospitals or spas and are guarded by helpful individuals (who are likely to restrict Duels at the spring, if anything; you know, Hippocrates and all).

                                                Other special locations exist, but are left to the imagination, invention, and desires of the players.  Outside of these and the above, the only way for a player to restore their Power is by staying out of the Corona; they get one point back for each day away.[/list:u][/list:u](

                                                The Point

                                                  Now, you
                                                could travel to the Corona simply to weaken the Power of your enemies in reality, but the world just isn't that simple.  Every physical point in reality 'belongs' to someone either here or there in the Corona.  Sometimes this is just because someone claims it, but often belongs to a fiefdom of more powerful Elemental Masters.  What this means is that, while you might like to overwhelm that special girl's Volcano Elemental with your Song Elemental (making it easier for you to attract her), 'where she is' probably belongs to someone who doesn't take kindly to unsanctioned Duel (or she has a guardian or she's more powerful than you expected get the picture).

                                                The point is to deal with the problems the players have Difficulties with.  It's never that easy.

                                                When a player is able to, in real life, deal with their Difficulties, they become 'freer.'  This means that, while they may keep that Elemental, when it is not available they are not vulnerable to those kinds of attacks.  There are as many ways to deal with difficulties as there are people who have them, but the trick (in the game and journal) is to see how the interplay between Elementals solved whatever the player has solved.  If bravery is learned to deal with one's superiors, then the Volcano Elemental has triumphed over the players Sphere Difficulty (and so on).  What really denotes true success with one's difficulties is when finds they are no longer concerned with what happens with that Element.  (If you're right back to worrying about your standing in your job, then you haven't really dealt with your Sphere difficulty, have you?)

                                                A person who has no Difficulties is immune to Elemental attacks of all kinds.  (Ya get this a lot from Zen Masters.)  If you lack a Difficulty in one Element, that means you are not weak to 'attacks' on that front.  (A person who either 'has everything they want' or 'wants for nothing' can never be bribed; lacking a Sphere difficulty creates immunity to a Sphere type attack from a Song Elemental.)

                                                Many times a person can find strength in their Difficulties.  If you have a workplace Sphere Difficulty, you might turn this into motivation to 'succeed at your career' (and that includes choosing to change your venue, getting a new job, because it is always better to choose your fights then let them choose you).

                                                All of these will appear in one's journal (that's right, you should be journaling the gameplay as well) and lead to interesting play possibilities in future sessions.[/list:u]Gamemastering

                                                  When someone opens a Portal into the Corona, they must stay behind as an anchor; this player then becomes the gamemaster.  The destination Element is limited by the abilities of the player who 'anchors the portal' (if they lack an Elemental, you can't go to that Corona).  There is no limit to the number of Portals that may be opened at any geographical point (short of 'how many doorways' would fit in the room), so you
                                                could pair off and send half the group on individual forays.

                                                That's where your role-playing gaming group comes in; in something of a coincidence ('inside the game'), you all share the trait of Elemental Mastery instead of role-playing games.  When you get together, you aren't there to play a role-playing game; you're there to travel into the Corona with each other's help and 'do stuff.'

                                                When you are the gamemaster, there is no need to plan ahead.  The players should have plenty of ideas about what they want to do (based on their journals); if they don't why don't you let them be the gamemaster?  What a gamemaster does in this game is create and uphold the complications.  (Who would want everything in the game to be easy?)  These stem primarily from whatever strikes the gamemaster's fancy in terms of what might make 'what the players want to do' a little more difficult.  A good gamemaster tries to tie the kind of complications introduced to either the players' Difficulties or Plans somehow.

                                                Where do these come from?

                                                  From the Journals - If a player shares some of their journal with the group, it indicates that this is something to pursue.  Dealing with Difficulties should always be a complicated affair (especially considering that the 'real world' outcome of Corona 'meddling' won't be known until the next play).  Things shared which are not Difficulties or based upon them should frame the types of complications and rewards the player seeks.

                                                  From the Corona - Other traveling Elemental Masters, Schools, Special locations, and wild Elementals are just a few of the things that may cause complications along the path taken by the player(s).  Don't forget to lay on a thick layer of 'aspected' Corona on the places that the players take the game to; that itself should create some interesting complications.

                                                  The frequency and intricacy of complications used in a game are driven by a couple of factors.  First of all, your Power determines 'who is watching you' or 'out to get you' and that always leads to more troubles.  The second is a matter of personal taste, if the group seems bored, use more complications, if they seem harried, use less (it never hurts to toss in an anticlimactic resolution when things seem a little too tough).  Remember, these initial complications are picked pretty much out of the air; this means that their resolution or 'completion' should be driven first by what seem 'right' for the situation (the more plausible, the better) and (in a close second) by how hard things are for the group (don't antagonize them too much).

                                                  Another common source of natural complications comes from within the group.  If the players decide to have problems with each other that's fine as long as you don't see it carrying over into the actual friendships at the table; that requires taking a breather from play.  A little rivalry is fine, just don't let it hurt the relationships that brought you together to play in the first place.  (A little respect should be practiced here, because these are the players' real personal problems; keep that in mind.)

                                                  As play progresses, and things 'get interesting,' you'll find that the players (by becoming more powerful) are more likely 'to get noticed.'  Powerful individuals as well as coalitions and certain power-bases may take note of 'rising stars' and either combat them or 'put them to use.'  One of the most common situations is that someone (or group) of relative influence will take steps, not necessarily to block players, but more likely to 'aim them' at that person's foes (through trickery mostly).  Standing or Power are what attract these complications the most and this is commonly the result of the escalation of complications.

                                                  As you can see from my journal entry, the gamemaster has much to work from.  There could be something influencing my friends, either from reality or the Corona.  There might also be someone influencing me the same way (considering the speculation I included).  How I put everything in Elemental and Difficulty terms helps him make up who, what, or how this situation was created.  The only suggestion I'd make is be careful journaling about people you play this game with, you might find out some uncomfortable things (or they might).[/list:u]
                                                  [/list:u]Where do all these 'other guys' come from?

                                                    To make things quicker and simpler, everyone takes a hand in creating them.  Often the gamemaster will come up with the personage (if not implied by someone's journal), if nothing immediately comes to mind, anyone can suggest something.  Archetypes are best (because anyone can be an Elemental Master), but so are 'people the players have never met.'  Just describe the individual to whatever extent seems appropriate (whoever first 'faces them' is the one who journals their appearance).  From that point, each player tries to come up with a Difficulty and an Elemental until 'enough' are found to fit the 'level of complication' desired by the gamemaster.  After that, each Elemental is brainstormed by the group for 'most likely abilities' and up to five are chosen.  The most important thing in this process is speed; close enough is better than wasting time and any point of contention should cause both sides to be eliminated (these are just 'secondary characters,' don't sweat the details).

                                                    Once complete, these extra characters become the responsibility of the person whose journal they reside in (copying them over transfers this responsibility).  Where the journalist isn't battling the character, he takes their role for Dueling; the gamemaster handles the personalities and dialogue for them (with the oversight of the journalist of that character - to keep things consistent).  When an extra character's journalist Duels with them, the gamemaster becomes the Duelist.[/list:u]
                                                    What happens when you do something in Corona and it doesn't seem to affect reality (as seen later in real life)?

                                                    This means something mitigated the eventual results (probably after the fact).  The exact character of what caused the Elemental Master's actions to go for naught are a matter for the gamemaster to think up during the initial 'sharing phase' of the next session.  (Each session of the game begins with a time where all the players share, from their journals, relevant happenings from the period between sessions.  This is where the things that happened in the last game are compared to what 'really happens' afterwards.  Players are also encouraged to share anything interesting that they'd like to impact play in the current session.)

                                                    That mitigating factor (especially if the player has journaled some explanation for any 'discrepancy') becomes the basis for one of the complications in the next session of play (based upon the journaling of the player they affect).  For example, if you 'go after your boss' and he doesn't seem weakened the next day, something must be helping him out.  During the next meeting, you can go into the Corona and discover what caused this.  If 'your boss' acts differently, but not how the 'go after him' should have affected him, how your journal describes the differences should inform the gamemaster what kind of choices to make for that complication (if you haven't guessed at what caused in your journal; remember, the journals are key to what happens).[/list:u]
                                                    To maintain the interest of players (when necessary),
                                                  escalate the complications.

                                                    Once you have created at least one complication per player, when necessary, work to escalate them into larger complications (using techniques like 'reveal that it is only the tip of the iceberg' or '...and
                                                  he told two friends' or 'his dad can beat' or 'that belonged to someone more powerful' or et cetera).

                                                  Once all of those complications have all reached 'major complication level' and interested 'the powers that be' (at whatever power level that seems appropriate to your tastes - remember there are always 'higher powers' in every situation that  don't need to be involved), start merging these into a couple of 'sources of complication' (or factions) and set these against each other according to 'what makes sense' in the game.

                                                  Let the actions of the players 'tip the balance' between these 'major sources of complications.'  If the players so desire, they may certainly become agents of a power, but that is hardly the only way to involve them.  You can also have them sought by 'the major opponent' (for even personal reasons) or turn out to be 'a vital ingredient' in some upcoming change (remember the "trickery").  Things in the Corona can get extremely Machiavellian and even Draconian.  The point is, keep the players important to the 'major powers' they have become embroiled with.  (And do it cleverly and overtly, that way it gets journaled properly for future reference and maintains the 'integrity of The Dream.')[/list:u][/list:u](

                                                  Fang Langford

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Matt Machell on May 16, 2003, 02:43:10 PM
                                                Gah! Not enough time... 'fraid I'll have to bow out.

                                                Besides, my idea has taken a decidedly narativist drift...


                                                Title: Vesuvius! -- She's Gonna Blow -- Again!
                                                Post by: bluegargantua on May 16, 2003, 05:41:01 PM

                                                From outside the Iron Gamer Kitchen Studios, there's an enormous explosion!  Security cameras placed around the studio parameter pan wildly, finally focusing on a gigantic blue monster stomping towards the studio!

                                                "Ota!  What's going on out there?"

                                                "Fukui-san!  It seems as though some giant, blue man-beast is headed this way.  It seems to be holding onto something.  Luckily the Tokyo Defense Force is mobilizing to stop the beast.  They've even rolled out the Toho Special Weapons Truck.  Certainly nothing can stand up to the 14,000 tetrawatt plasma projector cannon!"

                                                "Well, it certainly sounds as if things are under control..."


                                                "Go ahead, Ota."

                                                "The monster has utterly decimated the TDF and has just eaten the Special Weapons Truck!  It's now just outside the Studios!"

                                                There's a huge commotion in the studio as a portion of the roof comes crashing down.  Camera men and junior chefs run wildly about as the Chairman glares disapprovingly.  The other Iron Chefs, deep in concentration, hardly pay heed to the massive hand that reaches down and deposits something on the table.  A massive booming voice rings out.

                                                " you is actually tougher than the 24-hour contest.  I hope the Chairman and esteemed judges will appreciate my humble dish."


                                                Character Creation:

                                                We are Family:

                                                Before creating your individual character, the players first need to sit down as a group and work out the collective connections.  All the characters in the game are related to one another.  They are a family of Roman citizens living in Pompeii.  Starting the game as a fairly wealthy, patrician family with a manor and a staff of slaves lets you explore various facets of the game without worrying too much about money or influence.  But you can certainly choose to portray a less-prosperous family without any real difficulties, as money and power are very tenuous things in the game.

                                                You'll need to work out how you're all related to one another.  Some of you will be siblings, others will be of an older or younger generation.  Try to keep relationships fairly tight.  A large family with lots of uncles and aunts and cousins and the like will be difficult to run effectively.  Try to limit the number of NPCs (wives, children, siblings) to an absolutely minimum.  This ensures that the game stays focused on the PCs.  One slot that absolutely must be filled is Family Head.  This is the oldest male in the family and provides the foundation for the relationships within the family.  It can be filled by a PC or NPC depending on what the group wants to do.

                                                Once you've picked a position in the family, draw up a family tree to show how everyone is related to everyone else.  Then, the Family Head defines how he relates (personality-wise) to his siblings (if any), then his wife, and then how he relates to his children (starting with the oldest) and their spouses (if any).  If a given role is filled by an NPC, the PC talks it over with the GM.  If it's filled by a PC, the two players should try and work out how their two characters interact with each other.  Ideally, there's some little story or anecdote you can tell that describes how the two of you relate to each other.  Something as dramatic as: "Even though he was honored by the Senate for his service in the Legion, I never bothered to show up to see it” or as tame as:  "We'd always go fishing together when we were children, some of the happiest memories of my childhood".

                                                Once the Family Head has gone, his wife (if any) does the same.  Followed by any other siblings of the Family Head and their spouses.  Then the children of the Family Head take their turn.  The order of definitions starts with the oldest generation and goes "across" from oldest to youngest members of that generation.  Spouses of family members go immediately after that member takes their turn.  Once you've gone through a generation, you move "down" to the next oldest and start from the oldest member of that generation, going "across" and "down" until everyone's gone.  Any NPCs controlled by the GM get a turn like everyone else.

                                                When your turn comes up, you get to define your relations with your siblings, then your spouse, and then your children.  That's it, you'll define your other relations later on.  If you've already defined your relations with an older sibling, you don't need to do it again when your turn comes up.

                                                Once the youngest member of the youngest generation has gone, you define the relations you have with any other family members not already covered.  This time the order is reversed, so you start with the youngest member of the youngest generation and work backwards up to the Family Head.  There's no particular order in which you need to define relations when your turn comes up.

                                                So once you've gone through this process, you should have a pretty fleshed out family.  You should have a good idea of its social status and wealth and how everyone feels about everyone else.  Although these discussions will set up some of the internal drama for the game, it's not necessary to have a dysfunctional, soap-opera-like family.  Every family has a few rough spots here and there, but on the whole, most of them get along more or less.

                                                Now you can go on to detail your individual character.

                                                Your Reason for Being:

                                                Every person on the planet has a special purpose, a reason for being here.  Maybe they're destined to lead a nation, or compose a song, or write a book, or kill an innocent man, or be a raging alcoholic, or just be standing on a certain street corner at a certain time.  Sadly, this isn't conveniently written down anywhere and most people never fulfill their purpose.

                                                You're like most people.  You've got a purpose but you never really got it right.  What is it?  Write it down on a slip of paper, memorize it, and give it to the GM.  The only people who need to know about the purpose are you and the GM.  No one else needs to know.  Your character doesn't even know.  It's a big, fat secret.

                                                A Sense of Self:

                                                There are two base attributes -- Physical Capacity and Mental Capacity.  These represent your potential, both in terms of how well you can perform Physical or Mental Skills and how many of them you have.

                                                All attributes and skills have a Level and a Rank.  The Level is a general measure of how good you are at a given skill and is grouped into colors (similar to how there are different "belts" in
                                                martial arts like white belt, black belt, etc.):

                                                Black -- Sub-Human -- Any human on Earth could do a better job at the task -- even if totally untrained in the skill.  No human will have a Black Level skill unless there are extreme situational modifiers.  This Level is usually reserved for insignificant non-human opposition.

                                                Blue -- Below Average -- Most human beings can do a better job at the task if they have any level of training.

                                                Green -- Average -- This is the Level of skill the average human has if they're trained/practiced.  They aren't exceptional, but they can perform pretty much all the major functions of the task without too much difficulty.  Only particularly complex or specialized functions will give them problems.

                                                Red -- Above Average -- The best trained and most talented humans perform the task at this Level of ability.  

                                                White -- Superhuman -- No human being can hope to complete a task at this Level without extreme situational modifiers.  No human can ever have a White Level skill and it's usually reserved for non-humans or flat-out impossible tasks.  

                                                Within each Level, each skill and ability has a Rank.  A numerical value from 0-10.  This represents how well the character is performing right now and the higher the number, the better you're doing.  So one day you may have an 8, the next day you might have a 4.  Overall, you're still as good as other people at your Level, the Rank just represents the small daily fluctuations.

                                                Skills are generally written with the name of the skill followed by the Level and Rank, as in, Politics Blue-8.

                                                Your character starts with the following:

                                                Physical Capacity:  Green-X
                                                Mental Capacity:  Green-X

                                                The X means you roll a d10 for each capacity and use that number for your starting Rank (count a roll of 0 as 10).

                                                You can raise one Capacity to Red Level by dropping the other Capacity to Blue Level if you choose.

                                                You now have 5 points to spend on Physical Skills and 5 points to spend on Mental Skills.  Skills are pretty open-ended and left up to each player to create.  It's OK for two different players to have similar skills with different names.  The only restrictions are that you can't pick skills that wouldn't be available to a Roman citizen (so no Open Heart Surgery Skill, no Chinese Literature Skill, etc.).  You can't give yourself magical or supernatural skills, although you might know a lot about Religion, Mystery Cults, the Occult and so on.  Skills can be as narrow as "Lace Up Sandals" or as broad as "Merchant", but broad skills should only be about as large as an occupation.  A Skill like "Good at Everything Mental" is right out.  The game assumes that you know/can do just about anything the average Roman citizen would need to know/do in order to get by.  So you can speak Latin, you understand the culture you live in, etc.  There's usually no need for really basic day-to-day skills although you can certainly buy them if you wish.

                                                You should show your proposed skills to the GM.  If the GM feels that a skill is too broad or wouldn't be available to your character based on the guidelines above, you may be asked to make some changes or amendments.  Also, some skills (especially broader ones) may seem to be based on both Mental and Physical Capacities.  For example, Sailor is a broad, occupational skill and it covers a lot of activities from navigation to rowing.  In some cases, the GM may decide a skill falls squarely into one Capacity or another, however, that same reasoning should apply to any similar skills picked by other players.  On the other hand, the GM can (and should) be willing to provide some leeway in this regard assuming you can come up with a good argument as to why you think a skill should be based on a certain Capacity.  In our Sailor example above, the player argues that his character spends most of his time handling the piloting and administrative duties on board the ship so he feels that Sailor should be a Mental Skill.  This is certainly reasonable and the GM should probably allow it.  If another player buys Sailor as a Physical Skill, claiming that he worked the oars of a galley, it's perfectly fine for the GM to allow this as well.  The GM might ask players to clarify or narrow their skill a bit to better reflect everyone's vision of the work being done.  The player who chose Sailor as a Mental Skill might rename it to Captain Ship for example.

                                                It costs one point to buy a skill at the Level of the Capacity it's based on.  Thus, a Green Level Skill based off a Green Level Capacity costs 1 point.  You can buy a skill at a higher Level or a lower Level if you choose.  It costs 2 points to buy a skill one Level higher than the Capacity, or 4 points to buy a skill 2 Levels higher.  Conversely, you can spend 1 point to buy 2 skills one Level lower than the Capacity, or 4 skills two Levels lower.  You can't buy a Skill at Black or White Level.

                                                To show you your options consult the following table:

                                                If your capacity is Blue you could get:

                                                      5 Blue Level Skills
                                                      1 Red Level Skill, 1 Blue Level Skill
                                                      2 Green Level Skills, 1 Blue Level Skill
                                                      1 Green Level Skill, 3 Blue Level Skills

                                                If your capacity is Green you could get:

                                                   5 Green Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 3 Green Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 2 Green Level Skills, 2 Blue Level Skills   1 Red Level Skill, 1 Green Level Skill, 4 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 6 Blue Level Skills
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 1 Green Level Skill
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 2 Blue Level Skills
                                                   4 Green Level Skills, 2 Blue Level Skills
                                                   3 Green Level Skills, 4 Blue Level Skills
                                                   2 Green Level Skills, 6 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Green Level Skill, 8 Blue Level Skills
                                                   10 Blue Level Skills

                                                If your Capacity is Red you could get:

                                                   5 Red Level Skills
                                                   4 Red Level Skills, 2 Green Level Skills
                                                   4 Red Level Skills, 4 Blue Level Skills
                                                   3 Red Level Skills, 4 Green Level Skills
                                                   3 Red Level Skills, 2 Green Level Skills, 4 Blue Level Skills   3 Red Level Skills, 8 Blue Level Skills
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 6 Green Level Skills
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 4 Green Level Skills, 4 Blue Level Skills
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 2 Green Level Skills, 8 Blue Level Skills
                                                   2 Red Level Skills, 12 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 8 Green Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 6 Green Level Skills, 4 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 4 Green Level Skills, 8 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 2 Green Level Skills, 12 Blue Level Skills
                                                   1 Red Level Skill, 16 Blue Level Skills
                                                   20 Blue Level Skills

                                                Roll a d10 for each skill to get your starting Rank.

                                                Some players may get the bright idea of taking a Red-Level Capacity and then buying up 20 broad, occupational skills at Blue Level.  They may claim that their character "was a rich goof-off who's really smart but never applied himself to anything" or that "I'm a jack-of-all-trades, but rather than take that Skill (which I thought might be too broad), I bought up all the trades I'm jack in separately, just to be more fair".  Such players aren't playing to the spirit of the game and should really reconsider.  Not only is it highly unlikely that anyone goes through 20 different occupations in an entire lifetime, but taking this route will only hurt them in the end. At Blue Level, even untrained people have a chance of doing as well or better than them.  

                                                Characters will tend to do better if they have a strong focus, a couple of complementary skills and a few, weak, unrelated skills to round out the set.  Also, remember that the PCs are all part of a family so they may have certain skills in common.  A family of weavers might all have skill related to weaving or textiles for example.  They don't (and shouldn't) be clones of each other, but having a common skill like that helps link the characters and strengthens the idea that they're family.

                                                Once you've gotten all your skills written down, you're ready to play.  But first, we'll explain how you use your skills to get things done.

                                                Task Resolution:  How do you get things done?

                                                When your character wants to attempt something, look up the relevant skill on your character sheet.  So if you are attempting to audit the records of a business, you would use something like Accounting, or Business Management..  If you don't have a directly relevant skill,
                                                you can request to use a skill that would have some bearing on the task at hand.  If the GM agrees that the skill could be used in this case, you can make the substitution.  The GM may assign a penalty depending on how relevant the skill is.  This may be a 1-point reduction in Rank if it's really close or you may lose all your Rank (having an effective Rank of 0) for really tangential skills.  In our example above, if you didn't have a relevant skill you could subsitute Math (at a -1 penalty, if any) or Gambling (probably at a -2 or -3 penalty) or Law (probably losing all your Rank).  If you don't have any skills that apply to the task at hand (or can't convince your GM that your character has such a skill), then you can use your base Mental or Physical Capacity score (whichever the GM deems appropriate) at a 1-Level Penalty.  In our example, if you had a Red-Level Mental Capacity, you could use it as a Green-Level skill in Accounting.  

                                                The other character or chracters you are competing against will be picking the skills they feel are most relevant.  They don't necessarily have to have the exact same skill as you (or vice versa), they just need to have something appropriate that the GM approves (possibly with penalties).  In our foot race example from earlier, you may use your Run skill, one of your opponents may use Sprinting, another may use Athletics, and another may have to rely on their base Physical Capacity.  In cases where there are no opponents, the GM will choose a Level and Rank based on the difficulty of what your character is attempting.  This represents the opposition of "the world" as in the wall-climbing example earlier.  So that wall with handholds might only be Blue-4, while the sheer,  slick wall might be a Red-8.

                                                Now you simply compare skills with your opponent(s).  The victor is determined as follows:

                                                *  Higher Levels beat lower Levels.  So a Red-Level skill beats a Green-Level skill which beats a Blue-Level skill.

                                                *  If Levels are Tied, higher Rank beats lower Rank and you switch Ranks.  So a Green-6 beats a Green-2, but you then swap the Ranks, so Green-6 is now Green-2 and vice versa.  If there are multiple opponents at the same level, each character transfers their Rank to the person on their left at the table.  The GM is included in this shuffling for any NPCs involved in the contest (assume they're all sitting together at the GM's chair and pass along their Ranks like everyone else).  Also, if there are multiple opponents at different Levels, you only swap Ranks with opponents at your Level.  If your Level has been reduced due to a penalty, you still swap Ranks because the "effective" Level is the same.

                                                *  If Ranks are Tied, Compare Capcity.  The GM declares which capcity, Physical or Mental, is involed.  Usually this is obvious, it would be the Capcity used if the character didn't have any relevant skill for this contest.  If you were already using the Capacity as a default skill, you will use it again, but this time without any penalties.  As before, you determine the winner based on the higher Level, followed by the higher Rank (and be sure to swap the Ranks).  If it's still a tie, then it's just a tie and no one wins.  If a tie would be a satisfactory outcome to one or more participants (i.e. as long as you can't win I'm happy), then the GM should feel free to impose some minor penalty to those participants (i.e. I stopped you from climbing the wall but I got hurt in the process, or I looked bad in front of someone I'm tyring to impess, etc.).
                                                That's all there is to it.  A few examples are in order:
                                                Bob is trying to navigate a boat out of the harbor.  Bob has the Sailor skill at Green-8 and it's a nice day out with a favorable wind.  The GM rules that this should be no problem for Bob and  sets the challenge at Blue-5.  Green beats Blue so Bob has no trouble sailing out.  
                                                Later, the wind turns and the waters get a bit rougher.  Bob declares he wants to keep trying to hold his course.  The GM decides he has to win at another contest.  This time, the challenge is Green-5.  Bob's Green-8 means that he manages to handle the wind and waves, but because they tied on Level, they have to switch Ranks.  So now Bob has a Green-5 in Sailor.
                                                Still later, Bob is trying to sail back into the harbor at Pompeii.  Of course, it's gotten late, the volcano has blown it's stack and there's a dense, choking cloud of ash which is rolling out over the water.  Safely making it back to shore is going to be a real trick.  In fact, the GM thinks it's a Red-5 challenge.  Bob's boat gets hopelessly turned around and winds up running aground on some breakers.  The boat is damaged and Bob has no idea where he is.
                                                Now consider that footrace.  We'll say there are 7 people competing in the race, 3 PCs and 4 NPCs.  They are:
                                                Andy -- With a Red-5 in Athlete
                                                Bob -- With a Green-8 in Sprint
                                                Cindy -- Cindy has no relevant skill so her Green-8 Physical Capacity is used at Blue-5
                                                NPC1 -- Green-3
                                                NPC2 -- Green-6
                                                NPC3 -- Green-8
                                                NPC4 -- Red-4
                                                NPC5 -- Blue-5
                                                So, first we look to the Level.  Based on Level alone, the race looks like this:
                                                   Red:  Andy, NPC4
                                                   Green:  Bob, NPC1,  NPC2, NPC3
                                                   Blue:  Cindy,  NPC5
                                                Now we need to compare Ranks.  Now the race looks like this (Skill Rank is in parenthesis):
                                                   Red:     Andy (5)
                                                   Green:  Bob(8), NPC3(8)
                                                   Blue:   Cindy(5)
                                                At this point, there's a tie that needs to be resolved, but first, we swap Ranks.  So now:
                                                   Andy has a Red-4
                                                   NPC4 has a Red-5
                                                   Bob has a Green-8
                                                   NPC1 has a Green-8
                                                   NPC2 has a Green-3
                                                   NPC3 has a Green-6
                                                   NPC5 has a Blue-5
                                                   Cindy was using her Green-5 Physical Capacity at a penalty, so she swaps the rank with NPC5 and winds up with a Green-2 Physical Capacity.
                                                Finally, we've still got that tie between Bob and NPC1.  So the test goes to Physical Capacity.  Looking at the two scores involved:
                                                   Bob:  Green-3
                                                   NPC1:  Red-2
                                                It's clear that NPC1 beats Bob.  So the final results of the race are:
                                                Special Situations:
                                                Teamwork:  If a group of is working together to resolve a contest use the following method to determine the Group’s final Level and Rank:

                                                1. The character with the highest Level is the “main” character in the group and it’s his skill that will be used in the upcoming contest. If more than one character is in the same Level, then the PC with the highest Rank is “main”. In the event of a tie, pick one of the eligible characters.

                                                2. All characters working with the “main” character who are at a lower Level add 1 to the Rank of the “main” character. Characters who are working with the “main” character who are equal in Level add 1 Level to the “main” character. If this would take the “main” character beyond Red, the extra characters add +5 to the Rank of the “main” character. The "main" character's Level can only go up by 1 no matter how many additional helpers of his Level there are. Additional helpers who are at the "main" character's Level past the first one simply add +5 to the "main" characters Rank.  Compare the final, adjusted Level and Rank between the “main” character and the group’s opponent (who may also be a “main” character if two groups are squaring off). The “main” character and the opponent will swap their skill Ranks if that's necessary, the assisting players don't.
                                                So if you had the following team:
                                                Their combined score as a team would be Green-13.   Blue-8 would be the "main" character.  Blue-5 would raise Blue-8 to Green-8 and Blue-2 would add another 5 points making him Green-13.
                                                Combat:  Combats are handled the same way as any other contest.  The winner of the contest determines what happens to the loser (captured, wounded, unconscious, dead, etc.).  While this may seem a little harsh, (and unfair to people without monster combat skills) remember that in Vesuvius, no one stays dead longer than a day.  The next morning, the Last Day starts again and everyone is fine (or as fine as they were that morning).  So there's not much point in spending effort covering the issue except for two points:
                                                1.)  If you're using a weapon against an unarmed person, your skill gets bumped up 1 Level.  If it's already Red, add +5 to your Rank instead.

                                                2.)  If you've surprised or ambushed your opponent, their effective Level (for whatever skill they use to defend themselves) will be Blue.  For most NPCs, a few days of study will allow a PC to figure out the best place and time to strike (barring some sort of interference from PC actions).  For other PCs, the GM will have to determine if you've made adequate preparations.  And yes, you can have skills like Set Ambush or Avoid Ambush to use in combat situations like this (or to prevent the loss of Level).
                                                The First Last Day:
                                                The first play session will establish what you did on the Last Day of your life.  You need to decide where you woke up that morning and who you interacted with.  Because some of these interactions may be with other PCs or important NPCs, this is a group activity.  You'll need to discuss possible interactions and find ones that the Players agree on (although certain Characters may find the interactions to be less than fruitful).  
                                                An easy way to manage this is to create a log showing where you were, when you were there and what you did.  These logs will be collected into a master file for perusal by players and GMs who want to remember how events originally transpired.
                                                This is also your chance to add some details to the game world.  Pretty much anything or anyone you see today becomes a permanent fixture.  It'll happen over and over and over.  So add some cool people or events as landmarks or as something to experiment with in the early days of the game.  Maybe someone takes a fall and hurts themselves.  You'll be able to prevent that fall the next time around.
                                                This session is meant to be fairly freeform and unconcerned with rules.  However, there are a few key elements that must happen during the session.  While this may smack of railroading, remember that this is an important element of character creation.  This is your origin story describing how you got to be who you are.  If you don't meet these elements, then you won't be in the game.  The key elements are this:
                                                *  No PC gets killed.  That happens at the end of the day.

                                                *  Every PC shows up at a central location (probably the family estate) by 10PM.  If you get on a boat and sail away from Pompeii, you're not going to be in the game.  The explosion caught people almost completely by surprise, you'll be one of them.
                                                *  At around 11pm, Vesuvius explodes [ed. not really true in actual history, good enough for this game].  A roiling cloud of hot ash and fiery rock descends on the city.  The place the PCs are located at is quickly covered.  The temperature is unbearable.  It's almost impossible to see or breathe.  There's nowhere to run to.  Then the Family Head utters a prayer, a plea of desperation.  A dark prayer to Saturn, father of the Gods, eldest of the Titans and master of Time.  A prayer to save the family.  Then there is nothing but darkness and the taste of ashes...
                                                ...and then the PCs wake up.
                                                The Second First Day:
                                                So now the game begins in earnest.  Your characters wake up in the middle of the night.  Probably they think it was all just a bad dream and turn in.  But the increasing deja vu all day followed by yet another explosion that night will prove that there's a lot more going on.
                                                Early Explorations:
                                                Go ahead and play out the next several days as the PCs come to realize when they reach the end of the day, they jump back to early the previous morning.  Play out their reactions and their efforts to better understand what's going on.  Over time, they'll figure out that certain rules govern their new existence.  These rules (along with some basic terms) are listed below.  The PCs probably won't formalize these terms and rules in the same way, but they should eventually believe them:
                                                The Terms:
                                                A Traveler is a PC or NPC who jumps back in time and relives their lives.

                                                The Last Day is the day that Vesuvius explodes.  
                                                The Time Travel Rules:
                                                *  Travelers wake up just after midnight on the morning of the Last Day.  They can go back to sleep or get started with their day, however they see fit.  They'll be fully rested in any event.

                                                *  Travelers have total freedom of action and aren't required to relive any events they experienced on their first Last Day.  All other non-Traveler NPCs will relive the Last Day exactly unless acted upon by Travelers.

                                                *  When a Traveler dies or sleeps after midnight of the Last Day, they "reset" and wake up just after midnight on the morning of the Last Day.  They wake up in the same physical condition and location they did on their first Last Day.  Any physical items they may have acquired during the previous day are "reset" to where they were that morning.  Only the Traveler’s knowledge remains intact and Skill Ranks that may have changed remain change.
                                                Those are the basic rules.  There are a couple of clarifications:
                                                1.)  Play out a day until all the Travelers have died, or gone to sleep.  Everyone resets and starts a new day together.  This is called a round of play.

                                                2.)  Although Travelers can seriously alter the course of events, the "Butterfly Effect" should be seriously toned down or disregarded for most events.  This means that if a Traveler stands in a slightly different position or inhales a second earlier than in the first Last Day, it's not going to throw the entire event sequence into chaos.  Active interaction with the sequence of events and the fallout from those actions are what really matters and what needs to be considered.

                                                3.)  Unless interfered with by a Traveler, there are no "random events".  Making a quiet side bet at the right time is easy money.  Once a Traveler gets seriously involved though, anything can happen.  Most truly random events aren't that big a deal, but for those that are the GM can just roll a die.
                                                Practice Makes Perfect:

                                                With an unlimited number of "days" in which to practice, there's almost no skill that a character can't get better at.  However, focusing in one area means that other areas will suffer and training is even more boring in an RPG than it is in real life.
                                                Generally speaking, a group should agree that they want to take some time to change their skill set and then block off some game time to make the changes.  They don't need to play through the time it takes to learn the skills.  It just gets glossed over.  Assume that all the characters are focused on their personal learning projects and there aren't any other problems to worry about.  Remember, there aren't many "time sensitive" issues anymore.  Though training periods will cover a span of days equal to a few years, it's not that big a hardship for anyone to wait through it.
                                                During training time a player can either:
                                                1.)  Swap Levels between two different skills.  Rank stays the same.  By focusing on this skill it gets better while the other one gets neglected.  During a training phase, a player can make two such swaps.

                                                2.)  Replace any skill with another skill at the same Level and Rank as the one being replaced.
                                                At some point, the full impact of the situation the Characters are in will strike home.  They can run riot and do whatever they feel like with pretty much no consequences whatsoever.  Allow plenty of time for players and characters to get their fill of this.  They can go off on a tear and do all sorts of wonderful or horrible things to anyone and everyone.  But for even the most jaded of characters, the novelty will eventually wear off.  The problem is that since there are no consequences, there’s nothing meaningful to do.  Until they start listening to the songs.
                                                Songs of the Soul:
                                                Travelers will also discover that if they concentrate on a Non-Traveler they're looking at, they'll start to hear a song.  Some are louder than others, some are more complex or complete than others, but none of them seem to be fully realized.  If the Travelers cause changes in the Non-Traveler’s sequence of events, the song will also change a little bit.  Some actions will cause the song to become less distinct, others will strengthen and enhance the song.
                                                What the Travelers are hearing is that Non-Traveler’s Soul Song.  The song is at it's loudest, most fully-realized when the Non-Traveler fulfills their ultimate purpose on Earth.  Based on what most Travelers hear, Non-Travelers have a lot of work to do.  
                                                The song can't tell you what the specific purpose is, but the nature of the song (martial, romantic, heroic, creepy) often gives you a general idea.  The rest is found through simple trial and error.  Travelers cause changes in the sequence of events and see what happens to the song.  If Travelers interfere with the sequence of events and actually help the Non-Traveler fulfill their purpose, something magical happens for the Traveler.  The Soul Song of the person they helped will ring loudly in their ears (no matter where they are when it happens) and a shimmering, musical ball of light will appear before them and then enter their bodies.  These Magical Spheres are used by the Traveler to enhance their powers and abilities.  A Sphere is given to each Traveler who helped shape the events that lead to the Song's completion.  Once a Non-Traveler has had their Song completed, they are said to have been harvested and they can't be manipulated into creating any more Spheres.  The Non-Traveler will continue to replay the events in their lives day after day after harvesting.  The only change is that now the Non-Traveler no longer has a Soul Song.  If focused on, all you hear is silence -- just like other Travelers.  It's clear that harvested people haven't become Travelers, but it's not as certain if the Traveler’s absence of Song is proof that they've fulfilled their purpose.  Just another mystery for Travelers to delve into.
                                                Spheres -- what is it they're good for?
                                                A Magic Sphere is potential.  When you earn one, it flies inside and lies dormant until you choose to take advantage of it (it "resets" with you every day).  Most of the time you'll have a use for it right away, but you can always save it up for later.
                                                When you decide to use your Sphere you can use it to do one of the following things:
                                                *  Raise a Capacity or Skill by one Level.  You can't go past Red as usual.  

                                                *  Learn a new skill at the Level of the relevant Capacity.  Unlike other training this doesn't replace an existing skill, this is a brand-new skill.

                                                *  Raise a Capacity or Skill to Purple Level for one contest.  This is the only use of a Sphere that isn't permanent.

                                                *  Claim the person you harvested the Sphere from as a Shell.  When someone is your Shell you can choose to possess their body by concentrating on them before getting a full night's sleep (or on your Last Day).  All your capacities and skills remain the same, you're just inhabiting their body.  While you inhabit your Shell, your body will simply replay out all the events of its life just as if it were an Inactive Traveler.  Shells have no memory of what happens during the time they are possessed.  You can have multiple Shells and once you claim a Shell you can use it as many times as you like.  Once claimed as a Shell, that person can't be claimed by anyone else.  If multiple people try to claim a Shell at the same time, it goes to a Mental Capacity Test to see who gets it first.  

                                                *  Push the day you reset back by one.  This means the first time you use a Sphere this way, you now wake up the day before the Last Day, live out that day, the Last Day and then reset back to the day before the Last Day.  The full ramifications are discussed below.

                                                *  You can Return the Sphere.  You simply expel the Sphere and it flies out and dissipates.  There appears to be no effect, good or ill, for anyone if you choose to do this.
                                                Extending your "replay" time is probably one of the more useful things you can do with the Spheres.  Once characters start doing this we introduce some new terms and a couple of modifications to the original Time Traveling rules from earlier:
                                                *  Your Start Day is the day you wake up when you reset.  Your Last Day is the day after which you reset back to your Start Day.  At the beginning of the game, the Start Day and Last Day are the same.  As characters use the Spheres, the Start Day will move back.  
                                                *  An Active Traveler is one who is between his Start Day and Last Day.  An Active Traveler has complete freedom of action.  An Inactive Traveler is one who is before his Start Day.  Inactive Travelers are much like NPCs in that they relive the past exactly unless acted by Active Travelers.
                                                Alterations to the Time Travel Rules:
                                                *  Play begins with the Traveler whose Start Day is furthest in the past and moves forward until everyone has completed their Last Day and resets.

                                                *  Until play reaches a Traveler’s Start Day, they relive the past exactly unless acted on by Active Travelers.  For all practical purposes, they are treated as Non-Traveler NPCs (although they have no Song).  They have no knowledge of anything that occurs in the future nor any of the memories or skills they gained as a Traveler.  Once play reaches a Traveler’s Start Day, they become Active with complete freedom of action and memories of their life as a Traveler (including skills, knowledges, improved capacities, etc.).  Players should keep a copy of their original character sheet to use when playing their Inactive Traveler.  If acted on by an Active Traveler, the Inactive Traveler is totally under the control of the owning player and can react however the player sees fit.  Remember that an Inactive Traveler has no idea that they will become an Active Traveler, nor of anything that will transpire in their future.  So there are some constraints on the choices of appropriate reactions.

                                                *  Every Traveler plays out the period between their Start Day and Last Day.  If they were acted upon by an Active Traveler so that they are in a different physical location, they begin their Start Day at the new position.  The Traveler won't remember the actions that produced the change in location -- they just woke up in a new place.  Disturbing the first few times, most Travelers will soon realize that someone has been messing with their Inactive past.

                                                *  If an Active Traveler kills an Inactive Traveler, the Traveler still plays out their period.  On the Traveler’s Start Day, the Traveler will wake up in the body of a Shell, a person they've harvested a Magic Sphere from who isn't claimed as a Shell by any other Traveler, a distant relative, or any non-Traveler on Earth (in that order of precedence).  The exact person is randomly determined if there's more than one choice in a given category.

                                                *  As Travelers push their Start Day back further and further, they begin the game at a younger and younger "age".  Although unlikely to happen in most games, it's theoretically possible for a character to push their Start Day back to their birth or even earlier.  To do so, you'll need to have a Shell who was alive before you were born.  When your Start Day comes up, you'll always start in that Shell unless you have other Shells to choose from.

                                                When the Start Day gets pushed back by any player, all Players should pause the game and plot out what they were "originally" doing on that day.  This is similar to the how the first Last Day got played out.  Players determine what their Character did during that day and who they interacted with.  Interactions with other PCs should be handled with those Players and interactions with major NPCs should be handled with the GM.  The only critical event that must happen during that day is that the PCs wind up where they will wake up the next day.  Once this day gets plotted out, you can resume normal play.  Add the records of this day to the play log for future reference.

                                                Into the Future:

                                                The big question for most Travelers is if there's anyway to live past their Last Day.  The answer is that it's possible but very difficult.  Every Traveler has a Soul Song that can't be heard.  Their purpose and how close they are to it are a complete mystery.  Only the Player and the GM know what a particular character's purpose is, but even the character usually has no idea of what it might be.  If a Traveler manages to help fulfill another Traveler’s purpose, they'll harvest the Traveler.  By claiming the Traveler as a Shell, the claiming Traveler’s Last Day becomes the Last Day of the harvested Traveler if it's later than the Last Day currently held by the claiming Traveler.  This means that harvesting your fellow PCs doesn't do you much good since your Last Days are identical, though the Magic Sphere can be used for any of the usual purposes.

                                                Once a Traveler has been harvested, they lose their Traveling abilities and become just another harvested Non-Traveler.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: talysman on May 16, 2003, 06:30:11 PM
                                                ah! the oven timer tells me that the meat is almost thoroughly cooked; I've added a heavy dose of Arcadians to the soup, and I'm finishing the final bit of seasoning!

                                                of course, I'm fully expecting Jared to get it this time... because come on: who *doesn't* want to spend the next six months referring to Jared as "Iron Game Chef Simulationist"?


                                                ooops, I think a cyclops is trying to get out of the pan... back in a few...

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: talysman on May 16, 2003, 07:35:08 PM
                                                Daemons of Strife and Love
                                                a role-playing game based on the sayings of Empedocles
                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                There (in the sphere) are distinguished neither the swift limbs of the sun, no, nor the shaggy earth in its might, nor the sea, -- so fast was the god bound in the close covering of Harmony, spherical and round, rejoicing in his circular solitude.

                                                Kalinia clambered calmly and carefully up the slope towards the crater, as she had done with daily reverance since first she heard the teachings. she could already hear the burbling of the magma boiling above her, could smell the acridness of the brimstone.

                                                perhaps it was this hellish symphony of the senses that distracted her enough to allow the men to surprise her.

                                                "Kalinia! Stop!"

                                                she turned when she heard the rough voice of Eurystheus. he and two other men from the village were scrambling up behind her.

                                                "you must return with us, woman!" Eurystheus bellowed. "you must answer for your blasphemy!"

                                                "poor Eurystheus," Kalinia murmurred, "you do not see that it is blood sacrifice that is the true blasphemy."

                                                "silence!" Eurystheus shouted, lunging to grab her wrist. but with preternatural ease, she stepped to one side, dodging his motion, then scrambled further up the slope, closer to the crater.

                                                "you do not know what you do," she continued, backing away from the men now. "the ox you chose to offer to Zeus could have been your grandfather's father, or your mother's great uncle. you stain your soul with murder."

                                                "do not speak filth, Kalinia!" Eurystheus spat. "when the elders sit in judgement, do you wish them to condemn you death?"

                                                "condemn?" she asked. "perhaps many lives from now, you will understand death as I do."

                                                and without turning, without a trace of fear, she threw herself backwards to the flames of the volcano.

                                                Introduction: the Shape of the World

                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                For it is with earth that we see Earth, and Water with water; by air we see bright Air, by fire destroying Fire.  By love do we see Love, and Hate by grievous hate.

                                                Daemons of Strife and Love takes place in a fantasy version of ancient Greece: pleasant hills and light woods broken up by volcanic ridges; the people are simple, bronze age farmers and craftsmen occasionally called to set aside their tools and take up arms in endless tiny wars.

                                                religion is simple: there are gods who must be respected and may even smile upon mortals with favor if offered a proper sacrifice. each polis may have a few full-time priests and a dedicated temple, but just about any head of a family or village elder can dedicate a small shrine and offer a prize ox to the gods. live a good life and sacrifice well, and you might be taken to the Elysian Fields after death; otherwise, your lot will be shadows and dust.

                                                in the middle of this sometimes pastoral, sometimes violent life, the philosophers appeared to spread dissent. in their heresy, the world was made of four eternal elements (earth, air, water, and fire) changing according to the movement of two forces, philia (Love) and neikos (Strife). at the very beginning of the world, the four elements were intermingled harmoniously together in a sphere, joined together by Love; Strife entered from the outside, seperating the elements into the individual objects we perceive, driving Love into the center of the sphere. upon death, the stuff of living beings is recycled, even the daemon that inhabits the blood returns to the fire from whence it came, only to be reborn in a new body.

                                                the philosophers choose the path of Love over Strife, because the only escape from the cycle of death and rebirth is avoidance of Strife. to escape rebirth and become eternal, the philosophers avoid spilling blood, eat only plants, cheese and milk, and refrain from anger. they attempt to spread the message of Love to all those trapped with them in the prison of Life.

                                                their friends, family and neighbors see this message as evil itself. stop eating meat? how is a man to grow strong? stop making war? that is treason against the tyrranos and the act of a coward. stop sacrificing to the gods? that is blasphemy! everywhere the philosophers go, they are met with hate and anger.

                                                but you must not give in to Strife. you must stay true to Love.

                                                System: Conflict and Resolution

                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                For even as they (Strife and Love) were aforetime, so too they shall be; nor ever, methinks, will boundless time be emptied of that pair.

                                                before discussing how to generate characters and handle death and rebirth, it might help to briefly describe the way the game is played. one player, the gamemaster, will describe the events in the world as they happen; the other players, playing the role of philosophers, describe what the characters do and how they respond. many times during the game, there will be conflict: can the philosophers escape the angry warriors? can they untie the ox and free it from the sacrifical pen? can they heal the injured woman? can they convince the guard to free them from their cell?

                                                any time a conflict needs to be resolved, the player rolls several six-sided dice and compares them to one of the character's primary abilities; for more difficult tasks, the player rolls more dice. the character sheet may also list some useful traits, which can reduce the number of dice rolled (or add to the number of dice an opponent rolls.) if the total rolled on the dice is less than or equal to the character's ability score, the character gained the advantage; otherwise, the character lost the advantage.

                                                in some cases, a conflict may go exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly for the character. whenever at least half the dice rolled show the same number (three 5s rolled on five dice, for example,) this is called special success or special failure; whether it is a success or a failure depends on the total score on the dice (a total greater than the ability score used is a failure, a total less than or equal to the score is a success.) if all of the dice show the same number, it is a critical success or a critical failure.

                                                to put this another way: the total value of the dice indicates success or failure, while the number of matches indicates degrees of success or failure.

                                                any game of Daemons of Strife and Love is going to contain lots of conflict. for one, the characters are at odds with the world around them: they are true believers with a message of Love surrounded by Strife. for another, the characters do not advance by withdrawal and inactivity, but by seeking out conflict and attempting to diffuse it. characters gain experience any time the player must roll the dice; they gain more experience if they act to prevent Strife, and even more experience when they succeed.

                                                characters have two primary abilities: Blood and Breath. Blood covers any material or physical acts (feats of strength and dexterity, applied crafts, even the physical senses,) while Breath represents the soul and includes not only thought and conversation, but also magical power.

                                                there is another ability: Strife. Strife is used in a special way: it allows phenomenal actions, either by boosting Blood or Breath or by allowing a daemon (disembodied character) to affect the physical world. however, the downside is that any use of Strife increases Strife -- and decreases a character's chance of being reincarnated as a higher being. this will be covered in more detail later.

                                                one brief note on the system: it is designed to be faithful to the feel of a specific setting, not to "realism" or "historical accuracy". when attempting to roll a boulder, for example, the difficulty increases if the boulder is more massive than the character attempting the action -- but there are no tables to determine exactly how much weight a character can push or lift; it can vary, depending on how much effort the character can exert. when the gamemaster makes rules judgements, the question asked should be "is it logical?" not "is it realistic?" the setting of Daemons of Strife and Love obeys the simpler ancient greek physics instead of the detailed physics of the modern world.

                                                Characters: Birth and Rebirth

                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                For I have been ere now a boy and a girl, a bush and a bird and a dumb fish in the sea.

                                                in Daemons of Strife and Love, all the players take the role of philosophers who believe in the teachings of Empedocles. the characters know the truth about the world and the cycle of rebirth; they know that if they lead base lives filled with Strife, they will be reborn in a lower form of animal; but if they adhere to Love, their daemons will be drawn to higher and higher forms until they are finally freed from rebirth as beings of pure fire, virtual gods that live in the highest sphere, the Empyrean.

                                                to create a character, players first construct their daemon, the immortal soul that inhabits the blood of their character and passes from the body at death to be reborn. daemons have only the three abilities mentioned previously: Blood, Breath, and Strife. Strife begins at 10, although it may change later. Blood and Breath begin at 7 each, but these can be increased.

                                                players have a pool of 10 points to improve the character's abilities or purchase traits when the daemon incarnates. thus, Blood could be increased to 10 and Breath to 12, leaving 2 points for traits to flesh out a somewhat cerebral or mystical character.

                                                traits are divided into four categories, based on the four classical elements. each element has its own distinct area on the character sheet, since the number of traits in each category will affect the pattern of rebirth. characters won't begin the game with very many traits, but they will still be fairly competent and can improve quickly. all traits work in a very simple way: they either add dice to an opponent's die roll (passive use) or subtract dice from the character's roll (active use.)
                                                • Active trait use lowers the difficulty (dice rolled) for actions using a specific object or performed in a specific environment.
                                                • Passive trait use raises the difficulty (dice rolled) for all opponents in specific situations, or for specific opponents in any situation.
                                                  the number of points spent on a trait indicate the number of dice (+ or -) used to adjust the roll. no trait should be more than +/- 3 dice.

                                                  here are some typical traits for each of the four elements. more can be added with gamemaster approval, as long as they fit the setting and meet the restrictions above.

                                                  Earth Traits are traits of the environment the character lives in, rather than traits of the character's mind, body or soul; these include possessions or social status.
                                                  • gold (bonus when spending money)
                                                  • property (bonus when looking for equipment at home)
                                                  • good family (social bonus with friends of the family)
                                                  • renowned warrior (social bonus with other warriors)
                                                  • [/list:u]
                                                  Water Traits are physical traits, either based on a body part (active trait) or on resistance to an extreme condition (passive trait).
                                                  • long legs (bonus to move when walking/running)
                                                  • thick hide (bonus to resist damage)
                                                  • resist heat
                                                  • hold breath (bonus to avoid drowning or breathing poison)
                                                  • [/list:u]
                                                  Air Traits are what might otherwise be called skills, crafts, or knowledges; it allows using, making and identifying crafted objects or specific environments.
                                                  • sword (swing a sword, identify quality blades)
                                                  • shield (make a buckler, block a blow)
                                                  • woodlands (track game, hide in underbrush, spot animal)
                                                  • rhetoric (persuade, entertain with speech or writing)
                                                  • [/list:u]
                                                  Fire Traits are magical traits that grant characters supernatural abilities, including magical control of specific beasts and the ability to defy natural laws in specific situations.
                                                  • summon/control satyrs
                                                  • breathe water
                                                  • fly on the wind
                                                  • pass through stone
                                                  • [/list:u]
                                                    one final note about the character's first incarnation: a player can gain extra points to spend on Blood, Breath, or Traits by increasing Strife. the exchange rate is:
                                                  Quote from: Strife Bonus Table

                                                  +1 Strife = +1 point to Blood, Breath or Traits
                                                  +2 Strife = +2 points
                                                  +4 Strife = +3 points
                                                  +7 Strife = +4 points

                                                  be careful! this may seem like a great trade: more points to spend in exchange for boosting the ability to use Strife. however, increasing Strife now means probably spending a life as a goat or chicken later.

                                                  other than these simple starting characteristics, players should also choose their character's name, write a brief description, and add a few comments about the character's life up until now.

                                                  one thing seems to be missing: "hit points". different physical attacks and adversity may cause damage, which is treated as a penalty called a Wound (essentially, a temporary negative trait.) damage will be covered in detail later, but the important thing to note here is: any time a character with a Wound is injured again, the player must roll dice equal to the Wound to avoid dying.

                                                  ... which isn't as horrible as it sounds, since death merely releases the daemon from the blood. while dead, a daemon cannot use the Blood ability, use any Traits, or affect the physical world; a daemon can communicate easily with its fellow philosophers, communicate with difficulty with others, and observe or move through the world. a daemon can attempt to affect the physical world by using Strife as an ability score, but this automatically increases Strife by one point each time it is attempted. any time the player is ready, the daemon can return to the flames from whence it came and reincarnate.

                                                  when reincarnating, the player must first make a unique Strife roll of four dice to determine which direction on the Ladder of Life the daemon will move: if the total is greater than Strife, the character will be the same form as before (a human reincarnating as a human, etc.) if the total is less than or equal to Strife (i.e. Strife wins the roll,) the character reincarnates in a lesser form. special failure moves the character down two rungs, while critical failure moves the character down three rungs; special success moves the character up a rung, or up two rungs for critical success.

                                                  here are the "rungs" of the Ladder of Life:
                                                  • fiery being
                                                  • aerial being
                                                  • demigod or nymph
                                                  • human being
                                                  • half-beast or monster (cyclops, satyr, centaur)
                                                  • large carnivore (mountain lion)
                                                  • large herbivore (goat, ox)
                                                  • small animal (rat, rabbit, weasel)
                                                  • bird
                                                  • cold-blooded vertebrate (snake, lizard, turtle, fish)
                                                  • invertebrate (crab, snail)
                                                  • [/list:u]
                                                    starting characters should be human beings, although if the players and gamemaster can agree on a good reason, a player can choose to start on a lower rung.

                                                    unlike the first incarnation, reincarnated daemons do not change their ability scores and lose all previous traits. new traits are gained in a development phase using a special set of rules: add up the total dice adjustment for each group of traits to create an Earth score, a Water score, an Air score, and a Fire score. the player can now describe up to four important events in the character's early life that
                                                  might give a chance to learn traits specific to that event ("captured by pirates, then escaped" could yield an opportunity to learn to swim or learn to use a sword, for example.)

                                                  for each event, roll two dice against the total elemental score. if the roll is less than or equal this total score, the character can add traits, reducing the Earth score one point if an Earth trait is added, for example. after four rolls, or all elemental points are spent, the character's new incarnation is finished; if there are any elemental points left over after the four event, they become experience points, which will be explained later.

                                                  Setting: ... and I Am Already in Arcadia

                                                  the setting of Daemons of Strife and Love, Arcadia, is loosely based on mythic Greece. Arcadia is a warm climate with rolling hills, small woodlands, and volcanic mountains (some still active.) farmers grow grain and tend orchards; herdsmen raise sheep, goats, swine, and cattle. the ox is central to the agricultural society of Arcadia: it is used for meat, field-plowing, transportation of heavy burdens, and sacrificial offerings.

                                                  several towns and villages have grown large enough to support craftsmen of many kinds: potters, bronzesmiths, sculpturs, builders. the technology is Bronze Age, but vibrant and prosperous. the market areas are a center not only for commerce, but debate and education.

                                                  government is by the consensus of the wealthy property owners, except in a time of crisis; then, a man may be selected as the all-powerful ruler, the tyrannos. in theory, the tyrannos would step down when the crisis is over, but some have refused to do so... and some never waited for a crisis, but simply siezed power because they were able.

                                                  the social hierarchy of the typical Arcadian town starts at the bottom with the slaves. just above slavery are the poor free Arcadians, who labor for other wealthier families. above them are the artisans of various sorts, then the landowners. there is usually some stratification within each rank.

                                                  priests are an exception; how a priest is treated depends on the circumstances. in theory, a priest is a religious specialist: an artisan. in some wealthy towns, the temple owns quite a bit of property, in which case the high priest may be treated as a landowner. however, in strictly religious situations, priests will be treated as above landowners, perhaps even equal to a tyrannos.

                                                  life in Arcadia is not perfect. slaves and the poor do not have pleasant lives. those who are better off still have quarrels with each other, sometimes even vendettas. towns bear long grudges against other towns, sometimes leading to war -- and in war, everyone must become a soldier, whether trained or not. and even in the absense of man-made violence, there's plague, famine, and wild beasts.

                                                  and supernatural dangers. beast-men and other half-creatures occasionally roam the wild places; sometimes, a centaur band or a mantigora will terrorize a village. to the ordinary Arcadian, these half-creatures are the remnants of divine actions; to the philosophers, they are creatures left over from a more chaotic period. either way, they are far more brutish and dangerous than ordinary brigands; they have accumulated more Strife.

                                                  The Details: Bestiary
                                                  for most creatures, you will only need one score, Strife, plus scale ratings for speed and size, as well as the beast's traits. most beasts will only have Water and Air traits, although there are some interest possibilities for Earth traits ("lives in brambles" could be used to lead pursuers into a damaging trap, for example.) magical creatures may have a Fire trait; they should probably never have two Fire traits.

                                                  Strife for beasts is used as an ordinary ability rather than a boost to another ability. since higher Strife also mean a greater experience point bonus, this means that the more dangerous a creature is, the more a philosopher has to gain from facing the danger non-violently.

                                                  Speed and Size Scales are measured in terms of doubling and halving, with "human size" and "human walking pace" being the norm (Size/Speed 0.) thus:

                                                  Scale ---- Size Example/Speed Example
                                                •   bear/human trotting pace
                                                •   ox/human sprinting
                                                •   cyclops/deer running speed
                                                • [/list:o]
                                                  for negative size scale numbers, try: -1 = medium-sized dog, -2 = badger, -3 = large house cat, -4 = large rat.

                                                  base Strife numbers are set according to the animal's eating habits:

                                                  Strife  4 -- doesn't eat, or eats something unseen
                                                  Strife  7 -- herbivore
                                                  Strife 10 -- omnivore
                                                  Strife 13 -- carnivore

                                                  reduce Strife 1 point if the creature normally lives in herds or flocks (smaller social groups do not adjust). also reduce Strife if it is a domesticated animal.

                                                  increase Strife 1 point for each of the following: hunts, prone to rage, cruel, vengeful, lustful, solitary, timid. half-creatures and beast-men should also add 2 points to Strife.

                                                  do not use the adjustments for reincarnated philosophers: they keep whatever Strife they have, until the characters take an action that changes their Strife.

                                                  Lower Beings:
                                                • ant (Size -20, Speed -10, Strife 9)
                                                   probably the smallest creature philosophers will see.
                                                    not a major problem, but they can bite, and travel in swarms.
                                                    change the Size to the size of the swarm, and allow damage
                                                    to reduce the size.
                                                • bear (Size 1, Speed 0, Strife 11)
                                                   typical Traits: Woodlands, Thick Hide
                                                • boar (Size -1, Speed 1, Strife 10)
                                                   typical Traits: Grasslands or Woodlands, Thick Hide, Tusks
                                                • goat (Size -1, Speed 2, Strife 8 domestic, 9 wild)
                                                   typical Traits: Horns
                                                • lynx (Size 0, Speed 2, Strife 15)
                                                   typical Traits: Woodlands or Hills, Claws
                                                • ox (Size 2, Speed 0, Strife 5)
                                                   typical Traits: Horns, maybe Stampeded (for the wild variety)
                                                • ram (Size -1, Speed 2, Strife 6 domestic, 7 wild)
                                                   typical Traits: Horns, Surefoot
                                                • rat (Size - 6, Speed 2, Strife 10)
                                                   typical Traits: Teeth
                                                • snake (Size -3, Speed 2, Strife 15)
                                                   typical Traits: Fangs, Poison
                                                • stinging insect (Size -16, Speed -8, Strife 7 to 9)
                                                   typical Traits: Poison or Swarm
                                                    treat these a lot like ants, if desired
                                                • wolf (Size -1, Speed 2, Strife 13)
                                                   typical Traits: Woodlands or Hills, Fangs
                                                • centaur (Size 1, Speed 2, Strife 14)
                                                   typical Traits: Bow, Spear
                                                    centaurs usually travel in bands, unlike most other half-beasts.
                                                • cyclops (Size 3, Speed 0, Strife 19)
                                                   typical Traits: Club, Sharp Nose
                                                    solitary and bestial, but some of them are good smiths
                                                • lamia (Size 2, Speed -1, Strife 19)
                                                   typical Traits: Fangs, a Fire Trait like Sleep
                                                    solitary vampiric snake/woman hybrid
                                                • mantigora (Size 1, Speed 1, Strife 19)
                                                   typical Traits: Tail Spikes, Teeth
                                                    another solitary hybrid, this time tiger/man; can throw spikes
                                                • satyr (Size -1, Speed 1, Strife 17)
                                                   typical Traits: Pan-Pipes, Wine
                                                    sometimes solitary, sometimes in small bands, very wild and lusty
                                                Higher Beings: most Higher Beings should be assigned Blood and Breath scores; they are not monsters to be killed, but sources of wisdom and aide.
                                                • demigod/nymph (Size 0, Speed 1, Strife 7)
                                                   typical Traits: a Fire trait or two, an Air trait for their home.
                                                    these are the blessed inhabitants of the Hebrides, the dryads of the woods, the nereids of the sea, the rivergods, the heroes returned from the shadows of Hades.
                                                • aerial being (Size 0, Speed 3, Strife 4)
                                                   typical Traits: Mountains, Fly, Control Winds, and other Fire Traits.
                                                    the inhabitants of the lower heavens live in the clouds and dance upon the mountaintops; they have vaporous bodies and cannot be harmed by a fall from any height.
                                                • fiery being (Size 0, Speed 4, Strife 3)
                                                   typical Traits: Fly, Control Winds, Create Light, other Fire Traits.
                                                    the inhabitants of the upper heavens rarely come down as far as even the peaks of the tallest mountains; they have bodies of pure light that still resemble images of earthly forms, unlike the spherical, perfect gods that dwell beyond the Empyrean.
                                                The Details: Goods and Services

                                                the primary means of exchange in Arcadia is barter, although there are the occasional silver talent to be found. rather than use price lists, goods should be rated as "common", "rare" and "very rare"; common goods have a 2-dice difficulty, "rare" is 3 dice, and "very rare" is 4 dice. this is adjusted by any Traits the item may have; Cheap, for example, makes a tool more difficult to use, but lowers the difficulty of finding or purchasing the tool, as does Broken.

                                                item difficulties are also adjusted by Size. when searching for an object that is twice as small or large as usual, the difficulty increases by one die, with every doubling or halving adding another die. when bartering, it's the Size of the item desired versus the Size of the exchange offered that determins the die adjustment to the more valuable item. haggling rolls are similar to the opposed contests described later, with each side determining the difficulty of the item they are offering for trade and rolling to see the results.

                                                here are some items and common item Traits:
                                                • common: wood, stone, cloth, wool, meat, beer, bread, fruit
                                                • rare: bronze, silver, gold, purple dye, salt, wine
                                                • very rare: iron
                                                • generic negative Traits: Cheap, Broken, Ugly
                                                • generic positive Traits: Fine, Strong, Famous
                                                • weapon Traits: Sharp, Hard
                                                • armor Traits: Thick, Hard
                                                • [/list:u]
                                                The Details: Arcadians

                                                although beasts and monsters can be reduced to a single Strife score when no communication is planned, an Arcadian should be represented with Blood, Breath, Strife and Traits, exactly as would a philosopher. however, the magical effects of Breath and Strife boosting should be reserved for philosophers (you might give a priest a Fire Trait or two, however... )

                                                the scores and typical Traits of Arcadians can be based off their social class and profession:
                                                • slave: Blood 7, Breath 7, Strife 12, no Traits
                                                • freeman: Blood 10, Breath 8, Strife 11, Farm Trait
                                                • artisan: Blood 10, Breath 12, Strife 10, one of Clay, Bronze, Sculpture, Building, Brewing, Weaving or another craft
                                                • merchant: Blood 10, Breath 12, Strife 10, Coins, and an artisan's craft
                                                • brigand or warrior: Blood 12, Breath 10, Strife 14, Shield and Pilum or Sword
                                                • priest: Blood 10, Breath 12, Strife 10, Sacrifice, Song, or Stageplay
                                                • aristocrat: Blood 10, Breath 10, Strife 10, Property, Coins
                                                • [/list:u]
                                                  these are all general examples; for a specific Arcadian, Blood/Breath/Strife can be adjusted as appropriate and other Traits added.

                                                Situation: Events and Experience

                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                There is an oracle of Necessity, an ancient ordinance of the gods, eternal and sealed fast by broad oaths, that whenever one of the daemons, whose portion is length of days, has sinfully polluted his hands with blood, or  followed strife and forsworn himself, he must wander thrice ten thousand seasons from the abodes of the blessed, being born throughout the time in all manners of mortal forms, changing one toilsome path of life for another.  For the mighty Air drives him into the Sea, and the Sea spews him forth on the dry Earth; Earth tosses him into the beams of the blazing Sun, and he flings  him back to the eddies of Air.  One takes him from the other, and all reject  him.  One of these I now am, an exile and a wanderer from the gods, for that  I put my trust in insensate strife.

                                                Daemons of Strife and Love is a game about tough situations. the characters are philosophers firmly committed to reducing Strife, but many of the events the GM will describe during play will seem difficult to deal with; if bandits are raiding and killing travellers along the road to Solonika, how do you stop the killing without spilling blood yourself? and what is the benefit of doing so?

                                                conflict resolution was described briefly in the introduction, but here is a more detailed description, using an example of stealing a lamb about to be sacrifed and carrying it to safety. suppose Kalinia, an Arcadian woman who has discovered the cycle of rebirth, has Blood 12, Breath 9, and three Traits: Long Legs, Deal with Merchants, and Hill knowledge (all at +1). Kalinia's neighbor, Lukanthos, plans to sacrifice a lamb to ask the gods for a blessing on a newly-built home. Kalinia has been telling Lukanthos about the Truth recently and thought he had seen the light, but now fears he is sliding back into Strife. she decides to steal the lamb tonight and take it to a safe place.

                                                the GM tells Kalinia's player that, since Lukanthos is a simple man without fear of his neighbors, there are no substantial barriers to stealing the lamb, but two rolls are required: one to sneak into the yard without being seen, then a second to sneak out of the yard carrying the lamb. the first roll will be of average difficulty (3 dice,) the second roll will be more difficult (4 dice).

                                                Kalinia's Traits are not really applicable here, but she has a high Blood score, which is what a purely physical act would use. she rolls three six-sided dice and gets 6, 3, 1: a total of 10, which is a success, but no matches, so it's an ordinary success. she enters the barn without being seen.

                                                taking the struggling lamb and attempting to silence it, Kalinia's next roll is a more difficult four-dice roll. she gets 1, 3, 6, 3: a total of 13, with half the dice matching. that is a special failure. the GM rules that not only is Kalinia spotted, but the startled shouts of "hey! who is that?" cause her to lose her grip and the lamb breaks free. Kalinia's player decides to let the lamb run loose for now ("perhaps it will evade them on its own," she says,) and instead run to avoid capture and positive identification.

                                                since this has become an opposed conflict, it requires a little more attention to details about who goes first and what is said. Kalinia's player and the player running the opponent (typically the GM) follow this procedure:
                                                • the two sides each declare their intended action;
                                                • the basic difficulty is determined (i.e. how many dice each will roll);
                                                • the GM decides which traits can modify the dice rolls;
                                                • both sides roll their dice, with the high roll gaining initiative;
                                                • the dice are interpretted in terms of effects;
                                                • if necessary, follow-up rolls are made (damage, for example.)
                                                • [/list:o]
                                                  for this kind of conflict -- a race -- what matters is the success or failure.
                                                   - both Kalinia and the villager chasing her succeed equally:
                                                     the chase continues.
                                                   - both Kalinia and the villager fail equally:
                                                     the chase continues; if the failures are special or critical, a complication may take place.
                                                   - the villager fails, or Kalinia has a higher degree of success:
                                                     Kalinia evades him.
                                                   - Kalinia fails, or the villager has a higher degree of success:
                                                     the villager catches up (special and critical can add further complications.)
                                                  in addition to these possibilities, which would be the same for most conflicts, the GM mentions one other possibility before the race begins: if one person loses initiative one round (but rolls a success) and gains initiative the next round (and rolls a success), the second success is one degree higher... so Kalinia could escape the villager even with fairly average rolls, or the villager could catch up.

                                                  here is how the chase is played out: Kalinia's player announces Kalinia will run out of town, towards the hills; the GM announces the villager is in pursuit. the villager is fairly average, no special Traits to bring into play, so the GM sets Blood and Breath at 10 each. the difficulty for both would be average (3 dice,) but the dark of the night raises the difficulty to 4 dice. Kalinia, however, has the Long Legs trait, so all her rolls will be with 3 dice.

                                                  - first round: Kalinia rolls 2, 5, 4 = 11; villager rolls 2, 1, 3, 4 = 10.
                                                  Kalinia won the initiative, so she pulls ahead first, but the villager manages to keep up the pace.

                                                  the chase has now reached the hills. Kalinia can now use her knowledge of the Hills to evade the villager. she now rolls only two dice, which means she should succeed on every roll; she only rolls for initiative and to determin if there's a critical success (she can't get a special on only two dice.)

                                                  - second round: Kalinia rolls 4, 4 = 8; villager rolls 1, 1, 3, 1 = 8.
                                                  both are tied for initiative, but Kalinia's roll counts as a critical, which matches the villager's critical. the chase continues.

                                                  - third round: Kalinia rolls 5, 2 = 7; villager rolls 6, 3, 6, 3 = 18.
                                                  the villager wins initiative, but gets a special failure; the GM describes a complication for the villager that allows Kalinia to escape... this could be anything from tumbling back down the hill to getting caught in brambles.

                                                  all of this die-rolling produces something else for Kalinia: experience points. these have been briefly mentioned before: they are one important means of character advancement (the other means being actual play. if Kalinia seeks out someone in the game world to teach her a trait, she can add that trait without spending experience points.)

                                                  what actions are worth experience points? at the most basic level, any action that requires a die-roll. characters earn 1 experience point for every die of difficulty. this only applies to die rolls made while
                                                incarnate, however. also, characters get bonus experience from removing Strife.

                                                 -- if a character keeps blood from being spilt, the character
                                                    earns experience points equal to the potential victim's Strife.
                                                 -- if a character convinces an opponent to give up anger and
                                                    violence (at least for the time being,) the character earns
                                                    experience points equal to the opponent's Strife.
                                                 -- if a character successfully heals another person's injury,
                                                    the character earns experience points equal to that person's
                                                 -- if a character solves any other problem potentially dangerous
                                                    to others, the character earns experience points equal to
                                                    the character's own Strife.

                                                so, for the above episode: Kalinia made a 3-dice roll and a 4-dice roll during the rescue of the lamb (it doesn't matter that the second roll failed); that is worth 7 experience points. if she had carried the lamb to safety, that would have been worth another 5 or 6 experience points (for the lamb's Strife.) as it is, she still gets points earned from the chase: a 3-dice roll followed by two 2-dice rolls, for 7 more experience points.

                                                how does the GM set difficulty dice? in general, just use 3-dice rolls. most of the time, this will only vary if Traits are involved, although environmental factors can be treated as pseudotraits -- the race took place in the dark, so the GM treated Darkness as trait that increased the difficulty of the rolls. anything simple and easy doesn't require a roll, nor does anything outside of a conflict where the degree of success doesn't matter; if Kalinia sings softly to herself while cooking breakfast, she doesn't roll for either singing or cooking.

                                                the dice can also be affected by Speed and Size judgements. trying to pick up a 12-foot-long log (Size 2) would be a 5-dice roll; catching a fish in a stream (Speed 3) is a 6-dice roll. nearly impossible tasks can be set arbitrarily as a 10-dice roll.

                                                players can have their characters work together on tough rolls. this does not reduce the difficulty of the task, but it allows them to add together ability scores. three philosophers lifting that Size 2 log will have more luck, since their total Blood score will probably be around 30.

                                                physical actions have been covered pretty well, but what do characters use Breath for? one use is mundane: influence. if Kalinia argues with Lukanthos the next day that sacrificing the lamb is wrong, she can make a 3-dice roll against Breath to see if she influences him. this might be affected by other conditions: did he tell the whole village of 150 people that he would make the sacrifice? that's the equivalent of a Size 7 obstacle ... + 7 dice! does she offer to pay for the lamb? does she think of a plan to make the villagers believe the lamb was sacrificed?

                                                the other use for Breath is magic. there are actually three kinds of supernatural actions, two of which use Breath. one is simple magic: any philosopher can use Breath to perform any action that would normally require a Blood roll. the difficulty of the action is calculated exactly as if it were a normal action, but one logical restriction is removed. for example, Kalinia could have replaced her first roll to steal the lamb with a Breath roll to magically call the lamb to her (removing the logical requirement that she would have to speak to call to a lamb.) she could use a Breath roll to see inside a room without opening the door (removing the logical requirement that she can't see through walls.) none of these rolls cause anything to happen that appears miraculous; it all appears coincidental.

                                                the second use of Breath for magic is with Fire Traits, which allow some mild flashy effects. Fire Traits can also be use with Blood, however, so this is really just a special case of the first kind of Breath magic.

                                                the third kind of supernatural effect is to boost rolls with Strife. a player can add a character's Strife score to either Blood or Breath to have a better chance of success on the roll, but this automatically increases Strife by 1 point. the downside of this is that a philosopher is more likely to be reincarnated as a lower form, as explained earlier. this could start a slide back into lower and lower life forms until the philosopher fails to reincarnate as an animal at all, becoming lost forever.

                                                this isn't the only way Strife may increase. any time the character causes anger or fear, or spills blood, the Strife of the victim "attacks" the character: roll three dice and compare to the victim's Strife. success means the character gained 1 Strife from the emotional or physical violence involved; special success means 2 points of Strife, while critical success means 3 points of Strife.

                                                this is one of the follow-up rolls that can occur in a conflict (mentioned in the race example.) another follow-up roll is the damage roll, which occurs when one opponent hits another. the victim makes a Blood roll, with the dice difficulty determined by the size of the weapon, increased by the Sharp trait, and decreased by armor worn. if the damage roll fails, the victim adds 1 point to Wounds, 2 points on special failure, 3 points on critical failure. the first time an uninjured character gains a Wound, all that happens is the Wound is recorded; future actions take a 1-die penalty until all Wounds are healed. if a Wounded character is wounded again, however, the character must make another Blood roll, with the difficulty equal to the Wounds; on a failure, the character dies. the GM can allow two more actions before death on a normal (not critical) failure, or one action on special failure, if it seems appropriate.

                                                to heal a Wound, a character can attempt a Breath roll against the difficulty level of the Wound; success means the Wound decreases by one, two, or three points. there should be an intervening action between healing attempts, which may involve searching for healing herbs or fixing soup. a character will also heal naturally, making one Blood roll every day against the difficulty of the Wound to see if 1, 2 or 3 points are healed. and remember... a character using Breath rolls to heal another means earning experience points, perhaps quite a few.

                                                this pretty much covers all the ways to earn experience points, but what do you do with them? you spend them. characters do not keep track of total experience points earned, but instead earn a few, spend them on a benefit, earn a few more, and so on.

                                                experience points in Daemons of Strife and Love are also a bit unusual compared to other RPGs in that they are used to buy experiences. this comes from the assumption that the way a character improves is by training; Kalinia could seek out a fiery being from the upper heavens to teach her Flame Breath and this would cost no experience points at all -- it would just require a few rolls, and some role-playing. experience points are a shortcut; they indicate that good fortune as a result of a character's actions have given the character an "off-screen" chance to improve something. every improvement purchased in this manner should be described by the player as an event.

                                                to learn a new Trait, spend 10 experience points for every +1 die adjustment. to improve Blood or Breath, spend 40 experience points. reducing Strife also costs 40 experience points; this is the only way to reduce Strife -- to actually experience life and reflect upon those experiences.

                                                Color: the Heart of Volcanic Fire

                                                Quote from: Empedocles of Acragas

                                                For he is not furnished with a human head on his body, two branches do not sprout from his shoulders, he has no feet, no swift knees, nor hairy parts; but he is only a sacred and unutterable mind flashing through the whole world with rapid thoughts.

                                                to round things out, here is some advice for the GM on running adventures in Arcadia, as well as some special cases that may come up.

                                                first, the gamemaster should not be in competition with the players. the gamemaster represents the world and attempts to provide interesting settings and situations for the characters to explore. nor should the gamemaster actually plot out the actions of the character, but instead develop events that occur in the village and the surroundings: a big feast-day is coming up soon and hundreds of oxen are to be sacrificed, or one of the aristocrats is scheming to become tyrannos, or a rival polis wants control of the trade along the river, or a centaur band has kidnapped some children.

                                                the GM should not need to railroad in the slightest. just toss out events and ask what the characters do. if they chose to do something else, work off what they choose, and let the other events brew on their own. in theory, all of the above events mentioned could happen on their own, without any character intervention; they would just pick up gossip about what is happening, or see the end results of it all.

                                                but eventually the characters are going to do something -- anything -- because they need to reduce their strife in order to ascend the Ladder of Life and eventually become one of the translucent, glowing spheres that dwell beyond the Empyrean. the players will quite possibly come up with far more trouble than the gamemaster can think of all alone, as long as they are involved in the setting.

                                                the general cycle of the game thus works like this: the players establish their new characters, and with the GM develop the tensions between the philosophers and the village they live in. it should become obvious where the players want to explore next, so the GM can work up the conflicts that will present themselves during that exploration.

                                                at some point, a character is going to die. if the other characters are still trying to resolve a conflict, the disembodied daemon will mainly only be able to spy or relay messages. any philosopher can see and hear daemons and can communicate with them without problem; they can also communicate with daemons who have reincarnated as animals. however, if a daemon wants to communicate with someone who's unenlightened (through their dreams, for example,) the daemon needs to make a Breath roll to converse. likewise, an animal-philosopher can attempt a Breath roll to make a non-philosopher understand; failure means the non-philosopher hears growls or other appropriate noises.

                                                daemons can also attempt to affect the physical world, but they must use Strife in place of Blood to do so... which increases Strife. and Strife cannot be decreased while disembodied: daemons can neither earn nor use experience points, nor can they use or learn Traits. eventually, the player of the disembodied daemon will realize that reincarnation is necessary, and the daemon will float back to the nearest volcano, which acts as a gateway to rebirth.

                                                in most some cases, this will remove the dead character from the current conflict, because the reincarnated character must be born and grow to maturity. the one exception is if the character manages to ascend to demigod or higher, in which case the character can return immediately. otherwise, the other philosophers will have to wait a few years... or, sensing their time has come, they can cast themselves into a volcano voluntarily to destroy their current bodies and move on.

                                                the goal, then, is simple: help others to overcome Strife, remove Strife in yourself, avoid sinking to the lowest level on the Ladder of Life, and instead rise until reaching godhood.

                                                nothing a daemon can't accomplish in ten thousand years of wandering.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Walt Freitag on May 16, 2003, 08:29:58 PM
                                                What’s this? An Iron Game Chef competition with "blood" as one of the keywords, and no vampire games? That cannot be!

                                                But can a chef find something new to say with so over-used a motif as vampires? We’ll see!

                                                Precious Fluid
                                                a vampire game in a different vein


                                                Exponential functions are a bitch.

                                                Take one vampire. Vampire kills victim, who becomes a vampire. Let’s imagine this takes one year to occur. (Of course, vampires by nature kill far more than one per year, but we must also factor in vampires falling prey to torch-wielding villagers, victims in which the infection fails to "take," victims staked, decapitated, and burned to prevent the Crossing, and the occasional accidental daylight exposure. A year is still way too conservative, but that just helps make the point.)

                                                In thirty-two-and-some-change years, no more humans. Just billions of very hungry vampires.

                                                Of course, the vampire nations never let things get that out of hand. Possessed of foresight and self-restraint at least equal to that of their human livestock,  they managed to preserve a few hundred humans. Centuries of careful guardianship (and many setbacks) later, the human population has recovered to a few tens of thousands. They are protected and supported by the vampires, for only they, of their own volition, can provide the Precious Fluid.

                                                Oh, sure, the vampires tried the alternatives. Ruthless domination, captive breeding, permanent restraint, forced feeding, the whole horror show. But it didn’t work. For the humans, there is a simple answer to mistreatment by vampires: the particular form of suicide called the Crossing. No restraints or guards can prevent a human from Crossing, because any human with a mind possesses the power to tempt any vampire into an uncontrolled feeding. (And if the human has no mind, the Precious Fluid is worthless, no better than animal blood or synthetic substitute, able to sustain vampire existence but not feed the hunger.) The human gets rebirth as a vampire, with immortality and kewl powerz in the bargain; the vampire responsible gets no more Precious Fluid, and the resentment of every other vampire around.

                                                As the laws of supply and demand asserted themselves, and the power inevitably shifted toward a new balance point, the new Law of the Night became: Keep the humans happy.

                                                As long as they remain useful and reasonably cooperative, that is.

                                                Hence, the System. About three billion vampires labor to provide shelter and clothing and entertainment and sustenance for humankind and vampires alike. (This includes the substitute Fluids that sustain vampire existence). They maintain the cities, the roads, the factories, the utilities. They work in the service of the most rich and powerful vampires, especially those with the resources to reward them, once in a very great while, with Precious Fluid.

                                                Humans pay for everything they need or want from the vampires by participating in controlled Feedings. (Controlled means controlled; the vampire is firmly strapped into a stake-o-matic before the human even enters the room, and if the vampire doesn’t like it, it can go suck on a pig.) A human can get a vampire to do almost anything within its powers in exchange for a Feeding. But since such large transactions can be awkward (a feeding for a house, a feeding for a century of service, a feeding for an art masterpiece), most humans and vampires deal in Songs, which are ten-thousandth shares of future Feedings, jointly honored by all humans in the System. (The reason for the name should be obvious. Most normal goods, for one’s daily needs, a human can buy for a Song.)

                                                Just how precious is Precious Fluid?

                                                A standard controlled Feeding allows the vampire to take a little less than a tablespoon (about 12 ml).

                                                A human on an iron-rich diet can spare that amount or a little more daily without long-term ill effect (though the usual practice is to perform several Feedings at once at longer intervals).

                                                With about one eligible (adult, non-pregnant, healthy) human per 100,000 vampires, each vampire, on average, gets a Feeding about once every 250 years.

                                                (Of course, the distribution is far from that equitable. Some vampires Feed every day, while there are vast numbers who have never Fed once.)

                                                In other words: every human has nearly limitless wealth flowing through his or her own veins. The only limits to their power and influence are other humans, and the fact that they’re slow and weak, at the mercy of the vampires’ social order and individual self-control.

                                                So precious is the Precious Fluid that a vampire who Offends – that is, takes Precious Fluid without permission or reduces its future supply by injuring or killing a human -- is signing its own death warrant. If caught, the Offender, no matter his status in vampire society, will be destroyed without mercy by other vampires – even though most of them would Offend too, if tempted beyond endurance. (Such as, by the belief that they could get away with it.)

                                                Preserving this precarious balance demands that the most talented humans, in cooperation with the most self-possessed vampires, devote themselves to one thing:

                                                Fighting crime.

                                                Game Equipment

                                                The game requires a set of percentile dice. Each player also needs four infinite-sided dice, also known as "Spheres," for resolving conflicts during play.

                                                Since Spheres aren’t exactly standard game equipment, here’s what you need:

                                                - Spheres must be spherical objects with uniform surfaces and uniform weight distribution.
                                                - They must be sturdy enough to withstand collisions with one another (at low speed).

                                                - They should be larger than standard marbles, but smaller than tennis balls.

                                                - All players’ Spheres must be the same size and weight.

                                                - Each player needs four Spheres of the same color, that are a different color from the other players’ (and the GM’s) Spheres.

                                                - Players must be able to color parts of their Spheres with red and black, using permanent markers or paint, in such a way that red, black, and unmarked portions of the Sphere can be easily distinguished.

                                                Large marbles (3/4-inch to 1-inch in size) or small superballs are good choices.

                                                You also need a Bowl to roll the Spheres in. The Bowl must be large enough to allow as many Spheres as there are players to roll around freely without bumping into each other right away. If the Spheres are large marbles, a serving bowl is amply large enough, but if they’re squash balls, you might need a punch bowl. The bowl doesn’t have to be deep, in fact it’s better if it’s shallow, but it has to be continuously sloped so that a Sphere rolled into the Bowl must end up in the very center. A bowl with a broad flat center won’t work. A Battling Tops board is ideal for Spheres up to about one inch in diameter.

                                                The Basics

                                                Players play human Hunters, charged with the task of discovering, solving, and punishing Offenses.

                                                Hunters, like all humans, cannot physically harm vampires or defend themselves against harm from vampires. Only vampires can fight other vampires. When a vampire acts physically against a human, and is unopposed by other vampires, whatever the vampire wants to happen, happens. This remains true even if firearms, explosives, or other weapons are taken into consideration.

                                                Hunters, like all humans, can get vampires to do anything within their powers, by offering Songs. Vampires cannot resist a chance to receive Songs. (Remember, they’re always hungry.) The only orders they won’t obey are self-destructive orders (including orders to confess to an Offense or to try to kill an equally matched vampire) or orders that go against the orders of another human who has offered them more Songs.

                                                Each player-character has a practically unlimited number of Songs to spend.

                                                Vampires will normally obey the System and not Offend, making them extremely useful. However, some circumstances make them more likely to Offend. Should such circumstances occur, the GM calls for a die roll. These vampire Self-Control checks are very dangerous! Though the odds are not likely to be very high for any given check, a single Offense is likely to be very harmful or fatal to a player-character, and the long-term odds can mount up against you very quickly if you’re making a lot of checks.

                                                Creating a Character

                                                Invent a human who fights crime in a world of vampires. This world has present-day technology and infrastructure. (Since the rise of the vampires, humans have not had much chance to make progress in science and technology, while the vampires have preserved what they were already familiar with.) The existence of vampires implies the possibility of magic, but the player characters do not have magic abilities or knowledge of magic at the outset.

                                                Human characters get six points to put into skills. Skills can be chosen from the following list, or players can invent other skills of similar breadth, subject to GM approval. Note that skills are fairly general, so if you want your character to be able to do something very specific (such as planting wiretaps), you should create a more general skill (such as intelligence gathering) that includes it.

                                                Put one or two points into each skill you choose, up to a total of six points.

                                                Marksmanship, speed, firearms knowledge (remember, you still can’t take out vampires by shooting)

                                                Evidence gathering, forensic medicine, criminology, abnormal psychology

                                                Martial arts, melee weapons, improvised weapons (remember, this won’t let you attack, or defend yourself from, vampires)

                                                Diplomacy, salesmanship, political savvy, social graces, fitting in among the elite, confidence games

                                                Stealth and Disguise
                                                Stealthy movement, entry, disguise, camouflage, stalking and tracking

                                                Intelligence Gathering
                                                Surveillance, research, contacts, communications monitoring

                                                Survival and First Aid
                                                Extreme environments, foraging, deprivation, field medicine and surgery

                                                Surgery, medical practice, infectious diseases, pathology, toxicology

                                                Construction, repair, and operation; vehicles, industrial machinery, electrical power

                                                Action Stunts
                                                Leaping from/onto/between vehicles or buildings, climbing, surviving explosions,  improvised extreme sports, fast driving, stunt driving, controlled falls

                                                Information systems
                                                Libraries, computers, gossip networks, informants, auditing, paper trails

                                                Reasons why many people might be willing to act upon your ideas: political office, celebrity, charisma, media resources

                                                Vampire society
                                                Knowledge of vampire society, recognition and acceptance among vampires (likely including the vampire elite), ability to pass as a vampire

                                                Running for speed or distance, jumping, gymnastics, swimming, sports

                                                The next step is to think about your character’s methodology, an aspect of your character’s personality. There are three aspects to methodology: Force, Finesse, and Focus. The relative weightings between the three determine how your character approaches conflict and opposition.

                                                Force represents overpowering the opposition by trying harder, being more prepared, having better tools or a more thorough plan than the opposition. In a sword fight, Force would be using speed or fancy bladework. At a political dinner party, Force would be more thorough preparation and a bigger smile and telling funnier jokes than the opponent.

                                                Focus represents efficiency and concentration on the key elements of success. In a sword fight, Focus would be probing the enemy’s weakness until you find the perfect opening for a decisive stroke. At a political dinner party, Focus would be picking out the few people in the room with the real power and telling them just the right words. Focus has an obvious advantage over mere Force.

                                                Finesse represents cunning, misdirection, feints, and outflanking. It means the same thing as it does in bridge: wait for (or force) your opponent to commit to a play, and then counter it. In a sword fight, Finesse would be to appear to show a weakness to lure the enemy into an attack which you can then counter. At a political dinner party, Finesse would be to pretend you have no interest in persuading the president toward your position, and while everyone’s attention is on him, secretly persuading the president’s wife, drinking buddy, and advisors. Finesse has an obvious advantage over Focus. But (you saw this coming, I’m sure), Force has the advantage against Finesse.

                                                Think about how you want your character to distribute his strategies between Force, Focus, and Finesse. That will be your basis for creating a set of custom Spheres for your character, representing that distribution, using red and black paint or markers. The portion of each Sphere you mark red represents how much your character uses Focus. The portion you mark black represents how much your character uses Finesse. The portion you leave blank (that is, leave it its original color) represents how much your character uses Force.

                                                It’s up to you how you distribute the colors. The regions of color may be any shape you want and distributed however you want over the surface of each Sphere. You can give each Sphere a single large area of each color, or you can use a larger number of smaller regions. However, you should not use very small dots or thin lines. The regions of different colors must be easily visible.

                                                It’s also up to you how you vary between the four Spheres. You can make them all similar, or make them completely different from one another.

                                                Conflict Resolution

                                                When a player-character wants to take an action that has a significant chance of either success or failure,  the Spheres and the Bowl are used for resolution.

                                                Most actions in the game do not require resolution. These include:

                                                - Actions that present no difficulty or active opposition. The character succeeds automatically.

                                                - A vampire attempting any physical action against a human character unopposed by any other vampires. The vampire succeeds.

                                                - A human attempting any physical action against or opposed by a vampire. The human fails.

                                                - A character with an applicable skill opposed by a character with no applicable skill. This is an automatic success for the skilled character, as long as there are no circumstances that make the action difficult. For example, in daytime on a normal city street, a character with a tracking skill (such as Stealth and Disguise) will always be able to track another character with no skill at evasion. However, if it’s dark and the streets are crowded with vampires,  then the tracking could be difficult for reasons other than the character’s ability to evade, so a roll would be required.

                                                If a roll is required, the applicable skill levels of the opposing characters are revealed. (If the opposition is inherent difficulty, the GM states the difficulty level as the opposing skill level.) Each player picks up a number of their own Spheres equal to their own side’s skill level, and they simultaneously roll their Spheres into the Bowl.

                                                When the Spheres stop moving, each Sphere will be touching one or more other Spheres. Each point where two Spheres touch is called a Point Of Contact.

                                                A Sphere is counted as a success for its owner’s side if it has at least one "victory" Point Of Contact that fits one of the following three descriptions:

                                                - A point where the Sphere is red is touching another Sphere at a point where the other Sphere is its neutral color.

                                                - A point where the Sphere is black is touching another Sphere at a point where the other Sphere is red.

                                                - A point where the Sphere is its neutral color is touching another Sphere at a point where the other Sphere is black.

                                                RED BEATS NEUTRAL
                                                BLACK BEATS RED
                                                NEUTRAL BEATS BLACK

                                                It takes only one "victory" point of contact to make the Sphere count as a success. Note that it doesn’t matter if an individual Sphere has many "victory" points of contact, it still counts as one success. It also doesn’t matter if the Sphere has a greater number of "defeat" and/or "tie" points of contact than "victory" points of contact; it still counts as one success as long as it has at least one "victory" point of contact. It doesn’t even matter whose Spheres the various points of contact are in contact with. A Sphere with only a Point of Contact with another of the same player's Spheres can still be worth a success, as long as the Point of Contact is a "victory" color combination.

                                                The side with the greatest number of successes wins the conflict and achieves the results (or succeeds in preventing the results) originally stated as the goal of the conflict.

                                                If the scores are equal, either side can agree to raise the stakes for failure for that character and roll another Sphere into the Bowl. The raised stakes must represent a significant complication for the character, not just the use of a Song or other easily expendable resource. The player of the opposing character has a chance to then do the same, or pass. When the additional Sphere(s) are rolled, it will likely change the position of all the previous Spheres, so the entire result must be re-counted.

                                                Mikowski wants to track Reginald, a vampire Offender suspect, to find out who he hangs out with. Mikowski has one point in Stealth and Disguise. Reginald has no special skill to detect or evade tracking, but the GM rules that it’s dark, and Reginald dresses in black just like all three billion other vampires, so he’s going to be difficult to track. The difficulty is equivalent to a skill of one point.

                                                The GM rolls one Sphere for Reginald, and Mikowski’s player rolls one Sphere. The Spheres land with both Spheres red at the point of contact, which is a draw. The question of whether Mikowski can tail Reginald successfully enough to learn what he wants to know is still in doubt. Mikowski’s player declares that he’ll try to tail Reginald from closer in, risking Reginald seeing him and realizing he’s being tailed, which would make the subsequent investigation more difficult. The GM declines to raise the stakes for Reginald, so Mikowski’s player gets to roll a second Sphere.

                                                The three Spheres in the Bowl now have three Points of Contact:
                                                Reginald’s Sphere A BLACK, Mikowski’s Sphere B RED
                                                Reginald’s Sphere A NEUTRAL, Mikowski’s Sphere C RED
                                                Mikowski’s Sphere B BLACK, Mikowski’s Sphere C RED

                                                Reginald’s Sphere A counts as a success, because of the BLACK-RED Point of Contact with B. Both of Mikowski’s Spheres count as successes; C because of the RED-NEUTRAL Point of Contact with A, and B because of its BLACK-RED Point of Contact with sphere A. So Mikowski has more successes than Reginald (2 vs. 1), and succeeds in tracking Reginald and learning who Reginald talks to for the rest of the night.

                                                Vampire "Regulars"

                                                Each player, after creating a human character, must also create one or two (perhaps three, if one is just muscle) vampire characters. These vampires are "Regulars" who work with the humans in investigating, solving, and punishing Offenses.

                                                The vampire Regulars are not exactly player-characters, even though the players control them most of the time. The Regulars act as bodyguards for the human Hunters, and are competent peace officers in their own right. They’re paid in Song by the vampires in control of the city or county where the game takes place. They will accept Song from the Hunters to perform special favors, as long as this doesn’t contradict their general orders which are, they claim, to assist and protect the Hunters and to carry out punishment on the Offenders.

                                                A Regular gets four points in Skills. In addition to the Skills listed above for Hunters, Regulars can also have the following Skills:

                                                Vampire Status
                                                The vampire has the power to call upon, influence, or command other vampires of lesser status.

                                                Vampire Mind Tricks
                                                Confuse, subdue, or elude other vampires; cause intense fear in humans; erase individual humans’ memories.

                                                Kewl Transforming Powerz
                                                Can turn into a bat, a rat, a wolf, or mist.

                                                Teh Vampire Sexay
                                                Knows the exact right shade of black to wear that makes other vampires of either sex weak with helpless sexual desire. Sometimes even works on humans.

                                                As with Hunters, additional Skills can be created with GM approval.

                                                All vampires have a Self-Control stat, which ranges from –2 (very self-controlled) to + 2 (pretty scary). Regulars normally have a Self-Control stat of –2. If a Regular’s Self-Control stat is higher, the vampire Regular gets an additional point for Skills for each point added to the Self-Control stat.

                                                Some other adjustments to Skill points: a Regular gets 1 less Skill point if it is personally fond of the player-character, 2 less Skill points if it is a really close or long-term friend. A Regular gets 1 additional Skill point if it has Fed on the player-character in the past.

                                                Vampire Behavior

                                                When rolling Spheres for actions of Vampire Regulars, the player whose character  the Regular is associated with uses his or her own Spheres, since the vampire is taking its orders from that character. The same is true for actions of any vampires when the vampires are being paid in Song by a player-character to perform those actions. All other vampire actions are rolled by the GM.

                                                Vampire characters, even the ones who aren’t Offenders, even the Regulars, are dangerous to be around. With few exceptions, vampires are all hungry all the time. Certain circumstances can make it difficult for them to keep that hunger in check:

                                                Vampire is alone (that is, is the only vampire present) with a human:  +3
                                                Only other vampires present are accomplices in conspiracy to Offend:  +1 per accomplice, up to +5
                                                Other vampires (not conspirators) are present: - 1 per other vampire, up to - 5
                                                Vampire has Offended before:  +1 per Offense
                                                A recent Offense in the vicinity has gone unpunished for 24 hours:  +1
                                                A recent Offense in the vicinity has gone unpunished for three days:  +1 (cumulative)
                                                A recent Offense in the vicinity has gone unpunished for one week: +1 (cumulative)
                                                Human taunts or dares the vampire: + 1 to + 3
                                                Immediate sight and/or smell of fresh human blood: + 2
                                                Vampire has Fed (legally or otherwise) from this specific person before: +1 per instance
                                                Two or more humans are in an overt Song bidding war for this vampire’s services: + 2
                                                Request insulting to the vampire’s status: + 1
                                                Vampire offered Songs for a task it cannot possibly perform:  + 1
                                                Vampire has just won a tooth-and-claw fight: + 1
                                                Vampire has recently Fed: - 1
                                                Vampire has never Fed: - 1
                                                Vampire has a soul: Um, you’re playing the wrong game, dude.
                                                Vampire has personal affection for this human: - 1 to - 3
                                                Vampire hates this human: + 1 to + 3
                                                The vampire’s self-control stat: - 2 to  + 2

                                                A check is made if a situation occurs that totals +6 or higher. Add up all the situational factors that apply, and subtract 5 to determine a score. Roll percentile dice: if the roll is the score or lower, the vampire will attempt non-consensual Feeding (or worse) on the human.

                                                Character Advancement

                                                Each Hunter get an experience point for every case they resolve. An experience point can be used at any time between sessions to increase one of a character’s Skill scores or add a  new one-point Skill.

                                                Some Notes

                                                Due to other commitments this week, this is a way-less-than-24-hour game, so it’s very sketchy in some areas.

                                                Regarding the theme words: the connection to Song is pretty forced, but I think I’m in pretty good company here in that regard. The use of Blood is very strong (though obvious, it’s a direction no one else seems to have taken, cross fingers), and I thought that Sphere just cried out for a game mechanism that used actual spheres. Though said mechanism needs a lot more work, IMO. I managed to avoid the temptation to use Volcano in a completely gratuitous way – the Iron Game Chef equivalent of the squid-flavored ice cream dessert dish.

                                                I hope that this game, with more work especially in background and scenario details, could really develop a strong creative agenda around the theme of exploitation. The echoes here of gender issues, class issues, environmental issues, and society vs. human nature are by design.

                                                - Walt

                                                Title: Overtaken by RL...
                                                Post by: deadpanbob on May 16, 2003, 08:50:11 PM

                                                My first Iron Chef competition and I won't get finished in time.  Just as well, there are so many good games here - I am humbled.

                                                Well, the remainder of what I've gotten done so far:

                                                Quote from: Vulcan's Forge Character Creation

                                                A QUESTION OF CHARACTER
                                                All characters involved in Vulcan’s Forge are defined by several common elements.  These elements translate who the character is and what they can do into game mechanics that assess if and how well they succeed at any number of tasks.

                                                All players will create Vulcan characters – cybernetic/genetic human alien hybrids.  They are universally despised soldiers and saviors whose sacrifices saved humanity from enslavement at the hands of an insidious alien race.

                                                Despite humanity’s attempts to eradicate them, despite the fear and loathing they directed at them, Vulcan’s live for one purpose and one purpose alone: to protect humanity from the taint of the Fallen.

                                                After the war against the Fallen, and after the war against humanity, when all of the then existing Vulcan’s left this planet, a single secret Vulcan’s Forge remained.  Damaged though it was, it has still managed to produce several hundred Vulcans over the intervening thousand years.  Each player will take on the role of one of these children of Vulcan’s Forge.

                                                The Game Master will typically take on the roles of all the other characters that the players’ Vulcans will encounter.  From the wizened bartender who can clue them into a towns whisper-stream to the malevolent presence of Fallen tainted humans – they are all created and played by the Game Master.

                                                Typically, only the major antagonists should have a fully developed character created using these rules.  Extras, the random people that the players’ characters can interact with on a scene to scene basis probably don’t need fully formed statistics anyway.  If any situations arise that require dice rolls from an extra, just assign them a single Limit value and use that value as their limit and their skill with whatever action is being undertaken.

                                                All characters have the following elements in common:

                                                1.   Three Spheres: Blood, Mind, and Soul that represent a character’s effort capacity for physical, mental, and social/emotional action respectively.

                                                2.   Three sets of Traits: Descriptors of a character’s inborn talent, power, or luck with a fairly broad set of activities.

                                                3.   Skills: Representing a character’s experience and formal training within fairly narrow sets of activities.

                                                4.   Gear: The stuff that a character lugs around with them.

                                                In addition to the above, Vulcan’s and Fallen are further defined by the following elements:

                                                1.   Songs: These are powerful abilities defined largely by their governing Sphere.  Songs are the kewl powerz that the characters can access through singing in the alien tongue of the Fallen.

                                                2.   Drives: These are the people or groups that the character attaches himself to at the beginning of each episode.  Anytime a character attempts an action that impacts or involves the subject of a drive, they get to add bonus dice to their dice roll.

                                                Finally, all Vulcan characters have a Make and a Model – which determine which Spheres are primary and what Skills the Vulcan has access to respectively.

                                                BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING

                                                The first step in creating a Vulcan character is to choose a Make and a Model for the character.  Remember that each Vulcan is a synthetic human/alien hybrid – they are built from the ground up.  Vulcan’s Forge is capable of producing 3 different Makes and 6 different Models of Vulcan.

                                                There is no correspondence per se between Makes and Models, although some combinations will have obvious synergies.

                                                There are 3 Makes to choose from: Wyld, Pale, and Brood.  Each Make prioritizes the Blood, the Mind and the Soul Sphere respectively.

                                                Wyld Vulcans get a Blood Sphere value of 9, and get to assign 7 to their secondary Sphere and 6 to the remaining Sphere at the players discretion.

                                                Pale Vulcans get a Mind Sphere value of 9, and get to assign 7 to their secondary Sphere and 6 to the remaining Sphere at the players discretion.

                                                Brood Vulcans get a Soul Sphere value of 9, and get to assign 7 to their secondary Sphere and 6 to the remaining Sphere at the players discretion.

                                                As mentioned above, there are 6 different Models of Vulcan: Knights, Protectors, Stalkers, Seekers, Demagogues, and Gearheads.  Each choice affords the character a particular set of skills (see the Skills section for more details).  Players will have the option to buy additional skills from other Makes at the end of the character creation process.

                                                Players can assign a number of Trait levels under each Sphere equal to 2 times the character’s relevant Sphere rating as long as no assigned Trait has a value less than 1 or more than 10.  So a character with a Blood Sphere of 9 gets to assign 18 Trait levels among any number of Blood Traits – as long as no Blood Trait chosen has no fewer than 1 level and no more than 10 levels.

                                                Blood Trait examples include: strapping, vicious, wild, rugged, rough, sinewy, adroit, poised, lithe, nimble, quick, durable, supple, stout, hardy, indefatigable, swift, vigorous, firm, dogged, and vital.

                                                Soul Trait examples include: magnetic, fascinating, venerable, expressive, animated, amiable, captivating, authoritative, obsequious, credible, enthralling, chic, stunning, mesmeric, seductive, empathetic, tactful, considerate, menacing, affable, and droll.

                                                Mind Trait examples include: conscientious, astute, intuitive, perceptive, heedful, crafty, regimented, erudite, lucid, reflective, alert, bright, sensitive, clever, sly, tranquil, inspired, keen, unwavering, serene, and judicious.

                                                Players should feel free to create other Traits – with the express permission of the Game Master.

                                                The following Skills are available to the characters: awareness, husbandry, unarmed combat, bureaucracy, computers, crafts, ride, empathy, engineering, enigmas, etiquette, expression, finance, firearms, heavy weapons, coercion, research, law, leadership, linguistics, medicine, meditation, melee combat, occult, performance, politics, repair, science, scrounge, security, stealth, streetwise, subterfuge, and survival.

                                                Thanks for hosting and judging Mike.  I'm looking forward to finding out the winner...



                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 17, 2003, 06:55:56 AM
                                                Like Jason, I must respectfully bow out.  It just wasn't going to happen with all the exams and papers this week.  Argonauts will definitely show up eventually, though, in some form or another.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 19, 2003, 05:29:03 AM
                                                Well, all the designs are in, and I'm settling in to review them. Not sure how long this will take, but I'm pretty sure I can gt them in by tomorrow's deadline. Just a heads up.


                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 19, 2003, 05:56:50 AM
                                                OK, Somehow I had gotten worried about the drop outs. Just now I went and counted up the games to be judged. Folks, there are no less than seventeen games in there. And I was worried that exams would have a negative impact on number of entries. Sheesh!

                                                This may take me longer than I thought. Please bear with me.


                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:47:26 PM
                                                OK, I've got them all reviewed. They're short reviews, and to the point as there were so many to do. But hopefully one can see my thought processes.

                                                Anyhow, before I start posting the reviews, I'd like to make a couple of  honorable mentions.

                                                First, I would really like to see what Shreyas was cooking up with Te Anau, and Matt with whatever sci-fi madness he was working on. Eveen from the little tidbits, one got the sense of very cool ideas.

                                                More importantly, we need to see Argonauts. So, Jonathan, when you have the time, dude, do this game up.

                                                Thanks, and now on to the reviews (entered alphabetically by title).

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:47:54 PM
                                                Blood Songs of the Volcanic Sphere
                                                Author:  Ethan Greer

                                                Style: The text is a bit chatty, but the images it evokes are powerful. I get a sense of a really neat setting out there, but it's a pretty vague sense. Still, some points for a nifty idea.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: I think that the direct nature of the game speaks in favor of it as far as direct use goes. However, the game's definitely missing any elements for what to do in play. At best we get a suggestion that the Blood Singers travel between villages doing good.

                                                That's a bit thin. Also, many of the rules seem a bit contradictory at first. They're not, it turns out, but they require careful reading at the moment.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - floating in a sea of lava? Pretty good, I'd say.
                                                Sphere - likens the worldview of the natives to their view of their own bodies. Which subsequently is related to magic, and thence back to the world. Very Nice.
                                                Blood - again linked in strongly with the above.
                                                Song - same. All together these last three elements were incorporated not only into the game but also inextricably with each other.

                                                Overall, extremely good. Even included the unnecessary fourth element.

                                                Completeness: the author admits in the text that it's not done (-1/2 point; we're all aware that these will need work), and goes to some length to explain what he would do with it given more time. I agree that it's got a lot of potential, but it's pretty good as is, too. If the game had a little more in terms of the "what do I do?" in the text, I think that I could have given reasonable marks. As it is, I have to deduct a bit for what would need a lot of GM investment to get going.

                                                Overall, a very nice entry. Ethan had some interesting notes about the competition that I'll have to take into account. Thanks Ethan.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:48:25 PM
                                                Daemons of Strife and Love
                                                Author:  John Laviolette

                                                Style: John's sense of style comes through strongly in his choice of subject material, and how he presents it. I got a definite feel for the setting and its color. I wasn't thrilled about the choice of subject matter, personally, but that's too reflective of my own predilections for me to count heavily against the game.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: The mechanics are interesting, if a bit counterintuitive, especially in the fragmented presentation. Once I got them, however, I think they'll work fine. Assuming that players are into the idea of the game, I think that there's plenty enough direction on what to do that it would go just fine. In fact, I think that what we see here is hybrid Sim/Nar. There's definitely strong propulsion towards the issue of Strife, and the allowance to play it out any way the player wants. And the GMing suggestions would allow for Nar play. I'm tempted to deduct points for trying to slip a Nar game in under the radar, but I think that there's just enough Sim in there to allow it. Besides I didn't say that the game couldn't be hybrid. But, despite liking the Nar elements, I really can't give points for them either. Still, overall, I think it'll play well.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - Almost seemed tacked on at the end. But it's in there.
                                                Sphere - a central theme, but only loosely embodied in the mechanics.
                                                Blood - here we have a better connection. On the subject of reincarnation, however, I worry that it will end up being more problematic than it's worth. Could be fixed, however.
                                                Song - not used.

                                                Overall, hit's the marks, but not in a very strong way.

                                                Completeness: I think the game has everything it needs to play. I would give it strong marks were it not that I think that some of the lack of detail seems more there to support the narrativist thrust. Still, however, John proves he can make games that work, and the game is definitely whole.

                                                All said, a very strong entry from the Iron Game Chef Gamist. And if this were a competition for specifically hybrid games, or even Nar, I would probably consider it an excellent entry.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:48:58 PM
                                                FOUL BLOOD
                                                Author: Joe (Dragongrace)

                                                Style: Joe paints a very compelling picture of an asylum in which the doctors are as insane as the patients, and yet it's simply our world in the early part of the last century. All very creepy. Big points for style. It all evokes well the feeling of the process of primitive mental health treatment. This is present not only in the "fiction" but also in the text describing the mechanics. Did I mention creepy?

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: Seems almost too effective. Reading the game there seem to be strong Gamist elements. But this is belied by the fact that there seems to be no winning strategies. It's all quite abstracted, and as such, "winning and losing" take on different meanings.

                                                This might be confusing to those trying to play, but I think that therein lies the message of the game. Those who "get it" I think might really get something out of the game. Those who don't "get it" may be sorely disappointed. While that last seems problematic, potentially, I'm very interested in the idea of the game as a practical lesson. Very nice. Could use some tightening on the text, but overall, the play should deliver the experience in a really scary way.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - Very cool mechanic. I can see how the magma rises and subsides in patients. OTOH, what happens at 7? Other than the outburst, does the level go back down? Or is the patient permanently violent? Or violent until a good night sleep?
                                                Sphere - I was a little fuzzy on the use of the constellations, and they were tenuously linked.
                                                Blood - standard if well designed use of the term.
                                                Song - interesting sanity mechanic. Very indicative of the innovative mechanics. People who have debated in the past about "numberless" mechanics should look closely at some of these.

                                                Overall, at least three of these are good uses. Well done.

                                                Completeness: There are some spots that seem a little underdone. That is, the text probably needs some tweaking to get the idea of how it all works together into easy reach. I highly suggest a thread on this right away to bang it out. With a little work, I can see this as something that, say, Ron would play test with glee.

                                                All said and done, a really fascinating design. A simulation of the mental illness experience using mechanics very specifically designed to get the feel across. Also interesting for not needing a GM (though some handling instructions might be nice). A little rough overall, but a design that definitely deserves to see a full fruition.[/b]

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:50:04 PM
                                                In Your Element, Out of this World
                                                Author:  Fang Langford

                                                Style: This entry is intended, apparently as social commentary. As it's targeted at me amongst others, it's very hard for me to review it in an objective manner. I will say that Fang does a consistent job of maintaining his Metaphor/Reality tone throughout. And there are definitely some interesting ideas in terms of turning the arena dueling phenomenon inside out. But this seems much more a treatise on forum use hidden in

                                                metaphor than a game.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: I think it can be played, though I'm not sure that, as it's fully metaphorical form, that anyone will want to play.

                                                That said, who knows? As such I see no particular problems in overall terms. There are places where the metaphor does make it a bit unclear as to how it would work in terms of a game, but these could be cleaned up or overcome. OTOH, the actual mechanics of the duels seem to be unbalanced. Which is to an extent the point. To the extent that players would understand this would be the extent that they were really interested in investigating the deeper meanings of the game, and not just playing it as a dueling game. And since that seems to be the point, I have to accede that it's effective as such.

                                                One might consider it an interesting incorporation of metagame priorities directly into gaming form.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano, Sphere, Blood, Song - all stats for the player entity essentially these are all well incorporated mechanically. They might be seen as a tad forced, however. A better version might use different terms for the categories.

                                                Completeness: Very complete. I can't see anything missing per se. Again, some text could be tidied up, for accessibility, but otherwise it's all there.

                                                Overall. An interesting foray into gaming philosophy that may or may not (the reader will have to decide independently) have been marred by it's editorial nature. That said, the game probably would not exist if not for that motive. Designers can look to the game for some interesting concepts, however, to be sure.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:50:34 PM
                                                Author:  Mendel S. (Wormwood)

                                                Style: Mendel goes off on another trip into the realm of concepts and memes as he and a lot of other designers have lately. Straightforward deliver indicative of the hour that he took to put it together does manage to deliver the general idea. That being the idea of playing a song as a means to societal change. Apparently Clayton Michael Thomas is a memetic deity in this world, which I have to give "in" points for.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: lots of rewriting necessary to make this playable, unfortunately. Whole sections are confusing. And even then, there's the question of what a song "does". But at least it's an interesting question.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - not used
                                                Sphere - The realms which a song can affect, this is a simple if effective mechanic.
                                                Blood - A sphere. Pretty cool.
                                                Song - Well, you play one, at least on one level.

                                                Makes it, but, like the rest of the game, only barely.

                                                Completeness: Interestingly, if rewritten, I think it would have most everything you need. And that's cool, because I've yet to see one of these games get completed. OTOH, it's still not much more than an interesting thought experiment, IMO.

                                                Pretty good for only an hour.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:52:34 PM
                                                Author: Gwen

                                                Style: a little rough in the delivery, but one gets the satirical tone well enough from the text. Reminds me a lot, in fact, of the board game, "Road to the White House" by Mayfair games. And, cripes, who doesn't like to take a stab at the political process once in a while? I also like the touch of Dr. Evil thrown in by V.O.L.C.A.N.O.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: loads of IIEE issues. Who can do what when? There are several options, but not much in the way of direction on how to use them. This leads me to wonder just what play will look like. Also, this is a decidedly Gamist game. The best parts aren't very Sim at all (more about player competition than trying to model even a silly universe). With tweaking, however, I think you'd have a really fun one-shot sort of game. Fun for a night of political satire.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - creative use here. But I would have given you a ton of points if you had included what the acronym stands for (here's my attempt: Violent Overthrow League - Centralized Anti-Nationalist Organization; Kinda a combo organization like the AFL-CIO).
                                                Sphere - used as main character differentiator, cool.
                                                Blood - like "blood on your hands" (a Knipe idea). Nifty.
                                                Song - Not used.

                                                Got all three. Not bad for a short game.

                                                Completeness: I think that this needs at least some more explanatory text. There might be a complete game in there, I'm just not seeing it yet. But I want to see it, so work it out.

                                                For what seems to be another quick effort, this looks like a fun idea. Sorta Paranioa meets the political process. Nifty idea for looking at such action from a high level. People can look to such designs to see how one can Sim things on a different scale and still be playing individuals.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:53:07 PM
                                                Precious Fluid
                                                Author:  Walt Freitag

                                                Style: the subtitle is a pun? What are we in for? Leave it to Walt the clever tactician to waltz in last second with a complete meal. Vampire satire? Vicious logical extension? And, wait, what's this? Yes, They Fight Crime! OK, I laughed more than once reading this. It's presented deadpan, and all makes internal sense (I'm not sure about the logic behind the "System" entirely, but it's a least debatable). But that's part of it's weird charm. Kitsch points for mentioning battling tops.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: the Spheres mechanic provides infinitely small granularity, and total character customization via a tactile and visual system that is, itself the resolution system device. Folks that's a breakthrough in more than one way. Wow. I do have a feeling that this will have some quirks in adjudication, but it's too interesting do dismiss because of that. Just as players have rules for "cocked" dice, house rules for adjudication will arise.

                                                On the subject of the "Song" economy, I'm also a little dubious. But that shouldn't be too hard to work out.

                                                I'm not sure if "they fight crime" should get you points or not. Certainly it's a strong indicator of where play should go. But, damnit, couldn't you find something a teensy bit less cliché? Well, we won't penalize too harshly as it is the oddest-looking crime fighting. I'm very interested to see what sort of strategies occur with players trying to best incorporate their resources. Reminds me a bit of Bladerunner in a way, in that you can't directly take on some of your opposition.

                                                Why are humans in this position, though? Why aren't vampires self-monitoring? Again, there are some internal consistency points that need cleaning up. But sounds like fun to me.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - not used (thanks Walt for no Squid flavored ice cream)
                                                Sphere - Really neat mechanic
                                                Blood - Central point of the game.
                                                Song - as Walt admits this is obviously tacked on, but that said, it's a good tack job.

                                                Overall, very good use of terms. Certainly they all work together well.

                                                Completeness: Other than the explanations, if you buy into it, I think that you're off and running. Can't see anything missing, except possibly a better explanation of the economics. This game could go to play test now.

                                                Excellent entry. Indeed, a new take on an old subject (or two). Both in terms of setting and system. Well, done.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:53:40 PM
                                                Sign in Stranger
                                                Author:  Emily Care

                                                Style: one might think that Ms. Care is pandering to my tastes with her design. GMfull, worldbuilding Sim. I will endeavor to remain objective despite her nailing some f the things that I've been looking for lately. They are, after all, only one small "pervy" way to play Sim. Still...

                                                For what approaches a generic game Emily delivers quite a lot of feel. I'd consider this to be a good compromise between purist for system and high concept. Essentially, the high concept enables the purism. Nice that.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: there are no rules for adjudicating what happens when the players disagree on, say, what planet to go to as the starting mission or who gets to be Overseer on rolls that might fall under two modes. House methods might suffice...

                                                Otherwise, it all looks solid as far as it goes. Which is to say that I can see this being excellent in the context of colonization; but I don't see much more application than that. I mean, it could do other things, but the text doesn't even suggest it, much less support it in any way.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano – not used
                                                Sphere - spheres of player control in metagame terms. Interesting.
                                                Blood - as the motivation for characters to get off world. Not extensive, but it works.
                                                Song - another term could have been used as well, or maybe better. I call this one a stretch.

                                                Overall, not incredibly tight, but for a game that goes it's own way, not bad at all.

                                                Completeness: I think, again, that this has everything you need for some really intense alien contact action. In fact, I'd say it sounds like the best system that I've heard of for this purpose. If that could be expanded to stuff like policing, warfare, interstellar trade, etc, that would be a real boon, I'd think. I call this game complete, but not extensively so.

                                                This seems to be a game well designed to its goals. Modest though they may be, I think it's an exceptional design in a several ways. I especially like the way that character personality links into their ability to deal with the aliens. Makes it so much more personal seeming than the idea of just applying skills to the task. Which is cool.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:54:20 PM
                                                Songs of Distant Spheres
                                                Author:  Sean (ADGBoss)

                                                Style: Crisp, clean and direct. Sci-fi with a definite anime feel at times. One gets the basic dark feel, but not much more than that. Notably,

                                                what is the human universe like? Other than the Imperial Tyranny? That said, I think one does get the feel. But is it unique enough to maintain attention? It has a lot in common with, say, Macross.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: Seems all to be in place. Simple D20 system has all the important elements. There does seem to be a point at which there might be some problems with auto successes or failures, but only by extrapolating about bonuses and penalties. The stats as they stand are fine. Nothing particularly innovative here, but I think you'll definitely get decent play. OTOH, besides the obvious blasting of the baddies, and the typical melodramatic side conflicts between the players, there isn't much indicated to do. So, I think you'll see good play for a while, and after that, it's all on the GM.

                                                Song effects are not well described, but that can be worked around.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - Not used
                                                Sphere - Well, it's in there, but only as a term in quotes in one of the flavor text sections. That's about as thin as it gets.
                                                Blood - Again, it's in there but only by the thinnest of margins.
                                                Song - This is the source of Kewl Powerz in the game, and well incorporated, including some rules for making your own (which is good as not many are included).

                                                Completeness: Very complete. Using fairly standard methods, it seems that there's little left out. IIEE was amongst the most completely written out (other entries seem to rely a lot on the "common method" idea). One could imagine rules for the mecha, but I'm just as good with them being left as abstractions of the PCs effectiveness. Overall, pretty darn complete.

                                                This is a very stable seeming design, with a couple of cool ideas. A bit too stock in terms of overall subject right now, but with some fleshing out that might be something that can be overcome.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:54:47 PM
                                                Songs of the Dead
                                                Author:  Chris (Bankuei)

                                                Style: Chris describes very succinctly a world of tribal conflict and mysticism. It has a neat feel, but the elements as described in the mechanics have a somewhat fragmented presentation. As if the whole was cobbled together. That said, they're fairly compelling to me in a visceral way.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: some of the notes about tribe creation are vague or contradictory, but would be easy to fix. I like how traits define what a character is, rather than vice versa. I think the system will work in general terms, but there seems to be little to do but hack up one's enemies. If one could capture some of the feel that I think you intend, that could be cool. But it's not going to be easy from the text.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - Not used
                                                Sphere - use of the term might be replaced with something better. But it's included.
                                                Blood - Bloodlines, Blood song, lot's of blood.
                                                Song - These are again the source of Kewl Powerz.

                                                All there, but somewhat slim. I get a strong sense on Blood, but the others seem tossed in a bit.

                                                Completeness: Looking about the fragmented text, I see everything I need in general terms. But again that's to support just tribal warfare. Nice addition of rules for that, BTW.

                                                I think that there's a kernel of something here, but it needs to be developed and reworked. It could be played as an interesting one-shot, however.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:55:18 PM
                                                Author:  Simon Washbourne

                                                Style: I think this game delivers four-color supers extremely well. The whole method of play is suited to high excitement.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: first, this is a really Gamist design. I mean, c'mon, the players are set in teams in direct competition. Can't get much more Gamist than that. So I have to deduct points in terms of the contest. That said, I think it's an awesome Gamist construct, and I want to play it soon. Reminds me a lot of certain double-blind games at Con's that I've played (GMs with headsets). So it'll work fine...just not in a particularly Simulationist manner. Right game, wrong contest.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano, Sphere, Blood, Song - all characters from the game. As they are part of the list to choose from, they count.

                                                Completeness: as Simon mentioned, this needs some rules for win conditions. And complete rules for making your own teams would help, too. But those things out of the way, I think you have all you need for a Gamist romp.

                                                Again, wrong comeptition. But there's the start of a really fun game in there. Much better than the Clix stuff, IMO.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:56:05 PM
                                                Tiki God
                                                Author:  Chris Edwards

                                                Style: whacky surf goodness. Fun, fun.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: well, if this isn't the most Gamist game I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Sounds like a ton of fun, and I can't see any obvious gaps. It should go right to play testing. But you get -10000 points for having the wrong type of design. +1000 for waayy funny tho, dude.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                All in there in various silly ways. Very nice. Why couldn't you make it Sim? :-)

                                                Completeness: I think this needs to move straight to play test with some brave souls. Who'll volunteer?

                                                Still laughing. Should win some contest, just not this one. :-)

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:56:34 PM
                                                Tooth & Claw
                                                Author:  Jared Sorensen (memento-mori)

                                                Style: Jared incorporates his usual gleeful tone in his entry. Actually a game that has been slated to come out for a long time, we're honored to have him present it here. Um, dinosaurs...what else do you need to say, you get to play a dinosaur. Haven't you wanted these rules since you were ten? I have.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: What, I'm going to criticize one of Jared's designs? He's got a rock solid system, typical of his designs, yet, I think brand new. Sort of a combination "I" system and Godlike thing going, except with straights instead of matches. Everything you need is there. Even a section on sample sorts of adventures. I don't think that the game would support real long-term play with adults, but then maybe it would. And can you imagine playing this with kids? Should be a complete success.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - atmospheric use only
                                                Sphere - in an adventure
                                                Blood - again, atmospheric
                                                Song - not used

                                                Well, he's got them in there, but they seem sorta weak. I want to deduct big points, but somehow I can't Volcano and Blood just seem inextricably entwined with the concept even if they aren't embedded that strongly in the text or mechanics. Still, Sphere is a bit weak, and the only problem I can see with the entry.

                                                Completeness: it's all there. Even some Sim elements that other more traditional entries missed (he even put in a last minute section on environmental hazards just to cap it off. Are we surprised it's complete? From the man of a zillion games? No, not surprised.

                                                Obviously the man to beat. Jared's entry is typical of his expert design technique. It's only a question of whether anyone can beat him.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:57:08 PM
                                                Ubel They: Song of the Blood Spheres
                                                Author:  Chris Morgan

                                                Style: I'm a sucker for fantasy. And this has a lot of classic fantasy style. It's delivered in an uneven tone, however; one that even becomes silly at times. One gets the idea that this is supposed to be light play, but not exactly about what (leaving one to assume monster hacking from the examples)

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: The straightforward system will work, essentially, but is full of problems with auto successes and fails. There's a hint of elegance like T&T, though that might be uncovered with further development. Also, I get a strongly Gamist sense from the game, but one that's not currently supported. My notion would be to have all play be one big co-operative ramp up to fight the big baddie at the end. With roadblocks of different natures with each setting map hex entered. Lot's of potential there.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano, Sphere, Blood, Song - all parts of a theoretically important background myth. That myth is implied to be the point of play, but the text notes that it isn't covered.

                                                Completeness: Bare essentials are there. Yes, as the text points out, an experienced group could make do with the system. But there's very little there to inform play. As such, there are a lot of similar games that have the same amount of support.

                                                Could be real fun with more material, especially if slanted towards a more Gamist approach. As it stands, it's more of a framework for play than anything else.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:57:32 PM
                                                Author:  Tom (bluegargantua)

                                                Style: about as high concept as it gets. While it sticks fairly closely to it's source material, the game still manages somehow to evoke it's own mood. This is especially true in the presentation of the game in stages. By the time you get to the end, what looks at first to be potentially bland in play suddenly becomes much more interesting.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: I think the game will work excellently. The resolution system seems a bit complex in some ways, and might do with some trimming. But it's all there for a reason, and they're mostly good ones. I think that this game will probably tend to drift to the Narrativist. That is, the Sim system becomes irrelevant in terms of the unique setting. But the goal becomes, obviously, harvesting spheres. As such, it is just a line to be played out, and in that way it's very Sim. But it's definitely interesting in terms of GNS analysis.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - the central fact of the game.
                                                Sphere - magical crystal spheres that drives interaction
                                                Blood - Tom cites family, and while it's a present element, many games could claim that. Fortunately he only needs three.
                                                Song - represents soul, and is the means to the spheres

                                                Pretty good synthesis of the elements overall.

                                                Completeness: Talk about complete, the game provides rules for several stages of play end to end. I think that adding more to this would be spoiling a work of art. In fact, there are potentially things that I'd remove as I think they're somewhat ancillary. But nothing egregious.

                                                A neat idea for a game that is, as far as I can tell, very well executed.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:57:53 PM
                                                Volcanoes and Glaciers:Bloodsong of the Spheres
                                                Author: Palaskar  

                                                Style: delivered a bit choppy, but that's to support it's structure and to get all it's elements in. So we'll forgive it that. Otherwise, it does deliver a classic version of the Norse Myth for play. I can't speak to how well the myth sticks to the real myth, but it's certainly compelling enough for play for amatures like myself.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: The straightforward karma system seems to put a lot on the Guide, but assuming that everyone thinks this is a good idea, I think that the system should work with no problems. The wild points provide an interesting mechanic to shake things up a bit, and are an interesting resource. The bloodsongs need some rules for how you determine what they can do. That is, who gets to make them up? Can a player?

                                                As one can probably refer to actual myth for ideas, and there are some sample plot ideas, I think that there's enough to get play moving. The use of wild points should keep the narration lively.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - a stat that's part of sphere
                                                Sphere - a set of stats that encompasses volcano (and glacier and prosperity)
                                                Blood - part of a pair of stats the other of which is song. Together they enable the Kewl Powerz.
                                                Song - the other part of the pair

                                                A very tight use of all four terms. Excellent.

                                                Completeness: this is a very complete game. It does seem that parts of the game are from a house system that Palaskar has been working n, however, so we can't give him too many points for this (outside catering). Still, the specific application deserves a lot of credit. Some rules like how to get more Blood Points seem a little tacked on, but, hey, why not?

                                                With a lot of sprucing up, there's a pretty neat game in there.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 12:58:55 PM
                                                Vulcan's Forge
                                                Author:  deadpanbob

                                                Style: well, it's mostly style. One definitely gets the aesthetic motifs involved. I know bob said he dropped out, but there’s too much there to not review.

                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: Problems of missing parts aside, what is there seems functional. I'm not sure if the system needs tweaking or not, but it seems based on good theory. I have a feeling it's a bit more handling heavy than it has to be, but I like what it intends to provide.

                                                IOW, for a game that's not entirely complete, it looks like it's pretty functional.

                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano - vulcan, volcano...I suppose.
                                                Sphere - Stat realms. Very Tri-stat.
                                                Blood - One of the realms.
                                                Song - Didn't get incorporated, but the idea was there.

                                                He got three fairly soundly there. Would have been a solid set if the song chapter had gotten written.

                                                Completeness: funny, bob called it quits, but he has most of a system here. In fact, pretty much everything one would need to play is laid out pretty well. The only really missing things are some setting details in terms of mechanics. That is, what do the technology and songs can do.

                                                So from the POV of the game's goals, it's incomplete. But otherwise, there's quite a lot to work with in there.

                                                I think bob just bit off more than he could complete in a week. Too much time on art, and not enough on the meat. If he had completed it I think this game would definitely had a shot at top honors.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 01:04:50 PM
                                                And now for the winners.

                                                This contest had so many entries, and was so close in the scoring, that I am only going to post the two runners up and the winner. The rest should not feel bad. There weren't any bad efforts, and most were in some way exceptional.

                                                But without further ado, here are the runners up:

                                                Second Runner Up:
                                                Jared Sorenson for Tooth & Claw - had the game been more in line with the particular terms selected for the contest, this game would have been number one. As it is, we all, I'm sure look forward to it's publication.

                                                First Runner Up:
                                                Tom  for Vesuvius! - just a little tighter, and this one wins. Small doubts on technical merits were all that kept this one from being number one.

                                                And lastly, the new Iron Game Chef Simulationist:

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 01:11:18 PM
                                                Walt Freitag for Precious Fluid!

                                                Innovation, quality design, humor, and a new take on old subject matter. This is the game that most shouted out to me, "play me now!" (though some others did, too). Thanks Walt for this ingenious entry.

                                                Hail the new Iron Game Chef Simulationist, Walt Freitag!

                                                And thanks to everyone who participated. I was astounded by the turn out for the last contest - this one has really blown me away (I may have to reconsider the format). All I can say is that I'd like to see these games get some further discussion in the Indie Design forum, see them get playtested, and, if the stars are right, published. There isn't a design amongst these that couldn't be turned into a product for sale with a bit of work.

                                                Again, proud to be a member of this forum,
                                                Mike Holmes

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: ethan_greer on May 20, 2003, 01:27:18 PM
                                                I have to agree with Mike's choice for the winner.  Congrats, Walt!  My big goofy chef's hat is off to you.

                                                Second, a big thanks to Mike for the effort and obvious thought he put into the judging, as with the first contest.

                                                And don't worry - Blood Songs of the Volcanic Sphere will rear it's lava-drenched head once I have Thugs and Thieves ( put to bed...

                                                So, as to my comments on the contest - should we talk about that here or do you want to start another thread?

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: C. Edwards on May 20, 2003, 02:10:30 PM
                                                Congrats Walt!

                                                Seventeen games, that is amazing, excellent work everybody!

                                                *leads his army of rapacious, poo-flinging monkeys in search of the Chairman*     (j/k Mike, you know I love ya.)


                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 02:12:01 PM

                                                Definitely new threads, one for each and any games that get discussed.


                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Walt Freitag on May 20, 2003, 02:47:19 PM
                                                Yeah, what Mike said. New threads.

                                                But I think this is the right place to thank Mike for all his hard work hosting the competiton. I mean, think of it this way:

                                                Seventeen games, seven days, seventeen authors.

                                                Seventeen thoughtful game reviews, four days, one author.

                                                If the first is amazing (and I agree, it is), what does that make the second?

                                                - Walt

                                                [pauses to update his sig...]

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Mike Holmes on May 20, 2003, 05:15:21 PM
                                                Thanks, Walt.

                                                Actually on second review, I found that I made an error in judgin (I bet there's more than just the one). It seems that Jared's game has Songs in it after all. I can't make an adjustment at this point, but let's just say that Tooth & Claw is a damn good game as well, and really added a lot to the competition. So thanks to Jared for joining in the fun, and letting us all see this design up front. I'm sure it'll be for sale soon (if Jared has any sense in him).


                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 20, 2003, 06:07:53 PM
                                                Greetings Mike,

                                                Great reviews.  I hope more folks stop by to comment, but until then. . .

                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Ubel They: Song of the Blood Spheres
                                                Author:  Chris Morgan

                                                Style: I'm a sucker for fantasy. And this has a lot of classic fantasy style. It's delivered in an uneven tone, however; one that even becomes silly at times. One gets the idea that this is supposed to be light play, but not exactly about what (leaving one to assume monster hacking from the examples)

                                                Yeah, as presented it does seem pretty hack-n-slash oriented.  Not meant to be, but then that's neither here nor there.  You reviewed what was posted, not what may have been intended or might be in the works.  Fair is fair, and you've been that and more.

                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Estimated Effectiveness in Play: The straightforward system will work, essentially, but is full of problems with auto successes and fails. There's a hint of elegance like T&T, though that might be uncovered with further development. Also, I get a strongly Gamist sense from the game, but one that's not currently supported. My notion would be to have all play be one big co-operative ramp up to fight the big baddie at the end. With roadblocks of different natures with each setting map hex entered. Lot's of potential there.

                                                If you could PM about the problems with "auto successes and fails" I'd be very interested in your insights.

                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms:
                                                Volcano, Sphere, Blood, Song - all parts of a theoretically important background myth. That myth is implied to be the point of play, but the text notes that it isn't covered.

                                                Wow.  My Fung Ku super vagueness strikes again, eh?

                                                Mt. Mordrag = a volcano.

                                                The Blood Spheres = ok, those aren't really covered in detail, so you've got me there.  (The song is in how to activate them, but that requires a LOT of esoteric background.)  What can I say but more to come soon?

                                                In the mean time the rough draft work PDF with the maps and such is still up for DL.  Just be aware that PDF was never properly spell checked, for all that it's mostly white space.  I put it up just to give an idea of what the final PDF should look like.

                                                Still working.

                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Completeness: Bare essentials are there. Yes, as the text points out, an experienced group could make do with the system. But there's very little there to inform play. As such, there are a lot of similar games that have the same amount of support.

                                                Well it could have been worse.

                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Could be real fun with more material, especially if slanted towards a more Gamist approach. As it stands, it's more of a framework for play than anything else.

                                                Yeah, a "quick play" introductory kinda thing.  Speaking of which I have PDFed this entry (as quick play rules) and it's now up at ye old Fantastic Creations Yahoo group.  Just plain text, nothing fancy.


                                                Kind Regards,

                                                Kester Pelagius

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Kester Pelagius on May 20, 2003, 06:14:09 PM
                                                Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                Walt Freitag for Precious Fluid!

                                                Congratulations Mr. Freitag!

                                                Or, less formally. . .   Way to go Walt!

                                                *Kester showers Walt with Ouzo*


                                                Of course we should have known, with a name like Walt.  (Thinnly veiled reference to Walt Disney.)

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 06:34:25 PM
                                                Walt and Mike kick ass!

                                                But I do have to say that I had SO many friends volunteer to playtest "Tiki God" last week... :)  Too bad it was exam week or there definitely would have been some sofa surfing.  And I'm home now, so it probably won't happen.  Still, come this fall, there will definitely be Tiki Gods battling in Oberlin.  Maybe I should start a sign-up list...

                                                Oh yeah, and the Iron Chef version of Argonauts is now mostly posted here:


                                                ...though, as the thread shows, I think I may end up going in an entirely different direction for the design, and maybe leaving the original version to be a "bonus game" stuck in the back of the document.

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: talysman on May 21, 2003, 01:36:57 AM
                                                I'd like to say thanks to Mike and congrats to Walt also... I predicted Tooth & Claw would be the winner, but that was before the other two games were posted. I did think Vesuvius was intriguing, and the whole "standing vampire-human relationships on their heads" future world of Walt's Precious Fluid to be a hilarious concept. I can imagine it as a very noir-ish feel.

                                                I'd also like to thank everyone else who participated, because it makes these challenges very enjoyable, seeing all the interesting concepts people come up with.

                                                I will be doing a post-mortem on my own game, probably tomorrow, where I will discuss influences, problems, and next steps. hope everyone else does the same!

                                                Title: Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!
                                                Post by: Ron Edwards on May 21, 2003, 06:50:47 AM
                                                Hi everyone,

                                                Thread's closed. Congratulate, parse, reflect, and dissect in new threads.