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Iron Game Chef - Simulationist!

Started by Mike Holmes, May 08, 2003, 09:09:57 PM

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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...

"Oh, it's you...

Emily Care

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.
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games


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?



"Oh, it's you...

Shreyas Sampat

*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.


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.


"Oh, it's you...

C. Edwards

*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.


< 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.
John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects:

Ron Edwards

All right, you wickerbuckin' finnicks ...

That's enough pictures, K? Use links.



A sampling of Gear - delectibile with just the right hint of causal consistency seasoning.  MMM-MMM.


"Oh, it's you...


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.


Simon W

Bankuei said:

QuoteBut 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!



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.


Simon W

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.



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.


"Oh, it's you...



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?

The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.