Monday, July 19, 2021

Maximalist Weird Fiction Mercenary Contract Generator Appendix D: Military Assistance

I sort of shifted my strategy for Inspire Leadership; see if you can tell the difference. That was the final section I wrote for this.

Appendices
A: Investigations: High-risk detective work
B: Special Reconnaissance: Physical surveillance in hostile conditions
C: Military Intervention: Direct action in support of allied military activities
D: Military Assistance: Train, lead, advise and inspire allied military and/or security forces
E: Stability Actions: Ensure that a vulnerable polity, individual, or process thrives by engaging with threats on its behalf
F: Counterconspiracy: Social infiltration and undercover proactive security
G: Counteroccult: Hunt strange creatures, assassinate occultists, minimize the fallout of occult catastrophes, counter malign entities, and safeguard items and places of cosmic provenance
H: Influence Operations: Persuade, influence, subvert and deceive under delicate and/or hostile circumstances
I: Extractions: Recover personnel and assets from hostile forces and other dangerous situations
J: Civil Relief: Prevent atrocities, relieve suffering in cut-off areas, and set up systems of sustenance and protection for people who are under threat of deprivation and violence

Contract Index
Buttress
Foreign Military Effort
Viroalien Xenostygians (MABFMA1VX)
Xtapolapocetl (MABFMA2X)
Serpent Fur (MABFMA3SF)
Underground Movement
Reproach and Rapprochement (MABUM1RAR)
Proxy Apoplexy (MABUM2PA)
Magicopique (MABUM3M)
Inspire
Individual
Confirmation Daïs (MAII1CD)
Proioxis, Palioxis (MAII2PP)
Philosopher King (MAII3PK)
Leadership
The Fray (MAIL1TF)
A Falling Past (MAIL2AFP)
Blue Blood Boiling (MAIL3BBB)
Lead
Guerrillas
Ushering In Utopia (MALG1UIU)
Her Picture Keeps Me Warm (MALG2HPKMW)
Faith and Hope (MALG3FAH)
Rebels
Divine Right (MALR1DR)
Margraves All (MALR2MA)
Blockade Runner (MALR3BR)
Tribes
Demonic Mothbat Crocodile Spiders (MALT1DMCS)
A Whispering Crack (MALT2AWC)
The Rot of Milk and Honey (MALT3TROMAH)
Populace
Jackal Saviors (MALP1JS)
Support
Leader
Blue Spruce and Mule Deer (MASL1BSAMD)
War of Appeasement (MASL2WOA)
Controlled Burn (MASL3CB)
Movement
Heroic Archetypes (MASM1HA)
Violence ISO Nonviolence (MASM2VISON)
Mercenary Paladins (MASM2MP)
Shepherd and Sling (MASM3SAS)

Buttress
Foreign Military Effort
Viroalien Xenostygians (MABFMA1VX): The Mining Collective of the Harmonious Geode has dug too deep. A cavern was breached in the quest for raw troglodite, and a mist poured forth to engulf the miners. Its savor was beyond any sweetness yet tasted by gourmands or angels. Drawn on, the boldest of them walked into the lavender countermiasma and met with a few narrow forms in the billowing darkness: men long lost from the surface, lost for so long they had forgotten there was a surface. Cut off from any conduit to the sun in prehistory. The reconnection was happenstance. The outcome was pure causality.

The miners died. The mysterious men died. Those witnesses hanging back by the borehole mouth retreated to tell the mining council what had transpired. When they returned, the bodies had been melted flat into the cracks and crags of the sparkling cavern floor. The xenostygians had rendered them into something harmless to them.

The mine’s resident physician examined the corpsegoop. It carried a massive, totally inert bacterial and viral load. The germs of the two races of men had slaughtered each other, and then died immediately, for they were as unsuited to their new conditions as their carriers were.

The miners went back to the borehole to collapse it. They too were melted. Follow-on scouts reported xenostygians armored in mineralized eurypterid chitin crafted to resemble hallucigenian demons establishing a strongpoint of myriapodae razorfences. Their armor was hermetically sealed and decorated with the milk white and silver-mottled flesh of an unknown cephalopod. Their weapons are long platinum-iridium staves capable of emitting an emulsifying mist made from an unknown mineral.
The xenostygians are rising. Their blood hungers for the forgotten sun. The miners are desperate. They cannot come near each other; the abyssals or the delvers. There is only a desperate cleansing, by moltenstaff or mining charge. 

Help the miners. Hurl the xenostygians back into their eternal tomb, or find some way to bring a truce between these viroalienated peoples.

Xtapolapocetl (MABFMA2X): A city-state is fighting the mighty Cynthian Empire and losing its outlying domains. Buy it time to organize its urban core into something capable of defending the wilderness regions and, if possible, recover those the Cynthians have handed over to their tribal allies.

Be warned: the tribes are erecting strange totems in regions that the Cynthians have no interest in, and refugees from those totems report that the graven wooden heads contain actual human heads, and the final moments, fears and hatreds of the people whose heads were entombed in the totem seem to be manifesting in ethereal (but physiologically-affecting) three-dimensional visions. If there is a way of dissipating these specters, it is not yet known (you as GM rule explosions work, for example, or make toppling/destroying the totems the only way to end the manifestation).

These totems also seem to become the loci of novel entities, which are either attracted to the totems or are generated from whole cloth by the heads within. Each entity has its own visages, opinions and desires.
NPCs or PCs who are killed or taken by the tribes are likely to manifest in totems encountered by the PCs with all the attendant manifestations.

Serpent Fur (MABFMA3SF): The Mountain Towns of Grasswall are suffering undermining and attacks by an unknown xenostygian civilization. Now, if a town of Grasswall were to be taken by surfacers, the enemy would have a very troublesome time reaching the others with his war machine because most city-states don’t have their entire military structured around alpinism. The highland defense is useless against the underworlders because tunnels are sprouting right at the points which are most dangerous to the defenders of Grasswall, and xenostygian warriors wearing netted reams of shivering shards of obsidian like tinkling ghillie suits woven throughout their very bodies are emerging to conquer the towns.
The Grasswall militias are well suited to fighting on the sunny crags of home, but tunnel warfare is novel to them (though they are capable of making quick descents using their rock climbing gear).

You are being hired Infiltrate these tunnels and discover what is creating them; if possible, prevent the xenostygians from ever making another one, and if you can’t, prepare to lead the people of Grasswall to destroy the foe in his very subterranean warrens- or if you judge this to be impossible, convince them of the inevitability of their defeat and protect their exodus from the highland towns. 

Underground Movement
Reproach and Rapprochement (MABUM1RAR): The underground resistance against the tyranny of King Uralkan Malvista is led by his first and only son, Prince Huracian. King Uralkan has done unforgivable things to his people, but Prince Huracian wishes only that his father would disband the secret police and relax his campaign of murder against the city’s artists and jesters. The people cry for the blood of the king, but should it be granted whey will find themselves rudderless and quite susceptible to the vagaries of fate that accompany an interregnum.

The King loves his son and is prevaricating while being pressed by his ministers about what to do; they advise that he dispatch the price, but he wishes to reintegrate his son into the royal family and eventually hand the reins off to him (which of course could lead to the destruction of all those who supported harsh measures during the time of the King’s tyranny). Travel to the Malvistan Kingdom and bring harmonious stability and an end to the tyranny by whatever means necessary without allowing a true interregnum.

Proxy Apoplexy (MABUM2PA): The underground resistance in Capayagana is literally underground. This city has been ruined, resettled and made magnificent three times in history, and each time it falls is accompanied by landslides and erosion (typically from artillery fire or the explosive undermining of its walls).

Now the city has been conquered once more, and the resistance movement has descended into the megalithizing remnants of the old cities, which are pushing themselves into the soft soil at a rate of about an inch per week. The rebels have somehow been equipped with strange and diabolical weapons to fight the invaders; lye bombs, scorpion barb flechette mines, and plants with enormous roots that can disrupt the stone foundations of the buildings above. Assist the resistance against the invaders, but discover who is supplying them with weapons [xeno/cryptostygians] and guide them away from being unduly influenced by their benefactors. 

Magicopique (MABUM3M): The resistance of Brackjar has become understandably vicious; few city-states have been conquered in a more wanton fashion. The rage in the hearts of Brackjar’s people has allowed for the rise of a proscribed form of leadership: a congregation of occultists who have promised to lay their powers down, or go into voluntary exile, after the invaders have been routed from the city.
The ways of these occultists are mysterious; they seem to be a preexisting conspiracy of prominent citizens who came forward to take responsibility for the resistance after the invasion. They have shown one power thus far: the ability to delete spheres of matter from reality roughly 12’ in diameter; this is followed by a sucking-in as oxygen rushes in to fill the existential vacuum.

Free Brackjar from the oppression of their conquerors and rid them of their supernatural junta. Do this in whatever order you see fit but beware of being seduced by the prospect of their justly-peerless aid.

Know this: so bedeviled are the invaders by these occultists that they have paid off weakly-committed members of the resistance to assassinate the deleters through bombing or indiscriminate submachine-gunning. Whatever offensive powers the occultists have, they seem to have no powers of foresight or protection.

Inspire
Individual
Confirmation Daïs (MAII1CD)): Masonregime faces a heretical uprising based on a reading of the city-state’s traditional religious text that is based around bringing a meteor down on the cliffside city-state as a way to open a cosmic rift into heaven, absorbing all souls in a single flash of spiritual fire. The heretics have faced only scattered resistance from individual property owners as they advance through the city, seizing the infrastructure and public buildings in preparation for a grand ritual with a pole of antimagnetically entrapped suspendium.

The reason for this supine acceptance of rule by heretics is that the city’s Archprophet is not yet certain that the heretical reading of the scripture is wrong, and his sanction will be required for the Masonregimers to act unilaterally against the heretics. By temperament he leans towards ‘no’ but he is laboriously searching all associated texts for context before he makes a decision that will bathe his city in blood. The city’s ministers are covertly contracting us to enter the city and delay the heretical takeover as long as possible, throwing them into chaos through attacks, rumors and feints, to give the Archprophet time to develop his conviction against the Meteoric Hypothesis.

If you can, find a way to enhance and hasten his conviction against the heretics, through direct persuasion or through the shaping of events in Masonregime. Should all else fail and the heretics raise the antisuspendium rod upon the Orrerical Dias, do whatever it takes to bring this ceremony to a premature end or (may the Burning Eye forbid) they may somehow bring about the mad fate that they are courting.

Proioxis, Palioxis (MAII2PP): The war champion of Teraveste is a man of mighty passions and mighty melancholies. He is the unkillable master of battle when the spirit of action takes him, but when it fades he languishes with weeping and furrowed brow within his tent and waits for the mortars to fall. The generals of Teraveste are desperate; their fortunes seem to ride with this mighty warrior, and as he is inspired the men are inspired, as he is laid low the men fall back. They have contracted you to assist him when he becomes energized so as to get the absolute maximum out of his periods of activity, and to attempt to inspire, shame or mitigate him when the darkness comes and he sinks into his pout.

Philosopher King (MAII3PK): Once an inspiring figure, the president of Gardialalia has been rattled to the core by a series of military defeats. Elected on a Whig platform and utterly confident in his nation’s capabilities and destinies, he presided over a series of civic successes until a war that he never foresaw broke out. War is not a part of his constitution, and his leadership has been irresolute. Now the situation is degrading, the enemy is advancing and the president is wracked with guilt at the human cost of his military errors. Enter Gardialalia, liaison with the officer corps, buy time against the enemy, find the president, and if at all possible get him back in the fight. Bolster his efforts and make sure that Gardialalia does not fall.

Leadership
The Fray (MAIL1TF): The sweeping waves of men. Loinclothed fishermen pressed into transporters, a navy of halfmoon wicker. A dragon-kite deepening the wind like a carnyx.
Traditions grow strong. Their roots are shaped from the soil of the first things. Institutions grow strong. They take their lifeblood from sea-changes and their exoskeletons are technologies. As a technology properly envelopes an institution, so too does the embraced grow to fill its apportioned space. And when that technology rusts and creaks, so too does the institution wilt, except when its lifeblood is poured into a more vibrant vessel.

Once, the navy of Old Kronerand was a thing of nets and catamarans. Once there was no navy. Now it is ironclad battleships. Giant cataphracts. Submarines. Iron tritons. Once there was no air force. It is barely an air force. Zeppelins and balloons. Ridiculous things. Scout planes with binoculars and machine guns bought on donation.

Everyone knows these things. 

The General of the Army has a vision of the wind. Sky knights. Bellum gloriosum. Fighter Command. Bomber Command. Dash. Panache. The great turkey shoot as his men cross the open.

The Admiral has vision on the chthonic land from where he stands in the conning tower. Filth. Decay. Cities cracked open, sewage bubbling. At least when things die at sea they have the decency to sink or burn. 

The Air Marshal feels the feet of giants on his efforts, two jealous cyclopes burning his tadpole service with bale eyes. 
He is liberated by the technology of aviation. He has struck oil and it’s borne him aloft. They reach to clip his wings.
He fights his resentment.

To the General, his counterparts cannot understand the sacrifice of the body. The constant threat to it. Nor what it means to kill at close range- with a bayonet. To hear the screaming. They are Support. Secondary. Pseudowarriors. They are not Ancient.

And the Admiral. This is might and majesty. This is the projection of Power. This is not the swarm, nor the airy drift. This is not chaos, except in defeat. It is symphony, harmony, superhuman. The greatest weapon known to man.

The Air Marshal wishes to fly. He is party to a war but this is an enterprise for all mankind. Whatever the fate of his nation, he will have pushed the course of history nearer to the sky.

They are losing the war. There is no coordination. There is no cooperation. It is really three wars, each fought in contempt of the others. It’s not a manner of healing the rift between them; there was no bond to be damaged. The client needs you to be the herald of combined arms, unite the three great men, and by hook or by crook win the war.

A Falling Past (MAIL2AFP): Sophontera. It rests upon the bosom of its ancestors. A glittering dust always falls from the sparkling roofs of the great cavern tombs beneath the city. It is in this dust that forms can be seen- faces. It is from the mirror pools of the sarcophagi that voices can be heard; faint, not commanding. But certain.

Perhaps you are a boy or girl and you have no place among your peers. Your interests, your perceptions, the way you think- irreparably different.

Perhaps you are a king or a president and there is no analog in history for the crisis you face. There is nothing in your life that could have prepared you to make the fateful decision you must make.

Perhaps you are a pampered higher bourgeois. You know nothing of work or cunning; only of fancy. Now lean times have come for you. You have nothing to rely upon, inside or out.

The journey is old. It begins the same way. A hall of red eyes in darkness. Glittering rubies like powerful, fanged bat demons rising to salivate for your blood in the immediate shadows. Walk into this place. See what your mind does. You are raw. You could use the fantasy.

You will find a cave mouth in this place. It is shadow-lit. You need not bring a lantern. It will take you where you are going. Feel with your hands. Move slowly.

You will hear a hum. Feel a vibration. It will grow. The air will wet or cool. You will advance into a roaring wall of foggy light. This is one of two things. A subterranean waterfall or billowing steam from some ten mile vent far from your plying step. This is the sign of your transition and impending communion.

Walk beyond it. Drench yourself. Anoint yourself. You will set foot in the halls of the ancestors now. A cavern of vegetation is beyond the vale, a triple-canopy of feathery pastel mosscoral ensconced in furs of dripping green lichen. You walk upon a confluence of riverroads whisper steam beneath a shower of golden dust. The garden is filled with sarcophagi which the sacred dust caresses like petals on an upward face.

Someone will appear. A specter. Someone like you. There will be someone like you. A hundred thousand dead rest in these halls.

What is the greatest pleasure to one who has mastered his or her art? 

To teach. They will help you find your way.

They have a perspective. An outlook. A tradition. The city-state survived to be handed down. Many cannot make this claim. They do not expect those of the surface to hew to the ancestors’ every foible, but they do expect those now living to be able to explain the decisions of the city.

This faculty has slackened as of late. It seems that no one can explain the ways of the council to the ancestors in a way that they will accept. Petitioners from above have been driven back by hot steam after interlocution by the grim ancestral heralds of forgotten dark ages. The ancestors love to give advice but will not invest in a people they see as doomed, although there is agony on their breath. Those entering the antechamber of eyes cannot find their way through the dark anymore. The caverns do not yield. What once were gems seem really to be eyes now; not predatory, but scornful. 

The city faces a time of crises. War, plague and starvation loom. The people and government are at a loss for what to do without their ancient counsel. They have hired you as neutral observers, advisors and troubleshooters. Diagnose the problem between the polity and their ancestors and prepare them for the times to come.

Some ideas:
Find a way into the caverns of the ancestors via the Stygian canals that arise from more distant arteries, and discuss matters with them directly. Beware the fungal tentacles, extremophile coral ornithopters and acidic amoebas which utilize these channels.
Ascertain the core principles of the ancestors based on their traditional advisements and practices and determine where the city-state has directly contravened the old ways. Reform the council’s ways, or prepare them to make the deepest argument in their own favor yet- then beseech the ancestors for what might be the final time.
Leave the caves to molder and lead the city-state to victory over its coming travails without their traditional crutch. This is possible, but fraught with complications: the people trust and pine for their ancestors, and are hesitant to act decisively in their absence. They will be frustratingly passive until you can effect a sea-change in their outlook.

Blue Blood Boiling (MAIL3BBB): Aristocratic excess and arbitrariness make for strange bedfellows. The light has gone out on the gentlemen of Arisbar ever since an alliance of Republicans and Syndicalists ousted the House of Lords from the capitol. The nobles of the realm (landowners before warriors for generations) have retired to their country manors and their land turned into commons or handed to tenant farmers in the course of land reform. Now tapestries, ancient suits of armor and hereditary jewelry are being pawned to maintain a vestigial lifestyle of idleness.

Arisbar has found herself suddenly at war against an alliance of neighbors (long infuriated at the depredations of Arisbar’s cavalier elite) who see the present instability as a soft underbelly ready to be ripped apart for pork chops. The foremen and politicians of Aristbar were made into military commanders with disastrous results. Many of them have been killed, and the flower of Arisbar’s youth has been torn by early defeats. 

The nobles have been eating themselves alive with relentless dueling, idle of their old landlord’s affairs in their vast country estates. Riding accidents have become disturbingly common. They are dwindling; this will be the last such generation unless a reason to preserve them makes itself apparent. Which it has.
The only place military strategy has been taught for generations in Arisbar is around the hearths and maprooms of the great estates. Despite the placid debauchery characterizing the current crop of nobles and, to a lesser extent, their old men, they do possess a military cunning which has been fatally missing in Arisbar’s duly elected commanders.

The people still hold the old nobility in awe. They are like caged lions; a higher type. Their lifestyle in the country houses has remained the subject of rapturous attention despite the end of their political authority.
They have talent, and demons. They are not used to dissension or backtalk. They are not used to governing their intake of wine or roast pork. They are not used to the families of serving girls standing up to them. They are not used to taking advice from mercenaries or holding back when they have a chance to make a mounted charge, previously limiting themselves to riding down rioters and outlaws. They are irate at the government and people of their nation. Many would like it to go down in flames. Only the hostility of the foe prevents certain nobles from defecting.

The Provisional Citizens’ Council of Arisbar has hired you to rally the nobility to Arisbar’s flag once again by any means necessary short of restoring aristocratic hegemony. Get them leading troops and turn the tide of the three-pronged invasion. If all else fails, fill in whatever gaps you can and take to the field yourselves. The situation grows dire, dire, and prospects for Arisbar’s future (and your payment in full grow dim). Succeed and be the heroes of a nation, sharing in the ancient glory of the warrior aristocracy. Fail and witness the molten debellatio of a budding republic.

Lead
Guerrillas
Ushering In Utopia (MALG1UIU): There are few ideologies more inimical to Starling & Shrike (and mercenaries generally) than hardline Anarcho-Syndicalism. Nevertheless, necessity makes for strange bedfellows. The occult monarchy of Rembragar is a bloodstained tyranny in the manner of a murder cult written large. The only remaining effective guerrilla movement is the Forester’s Union, an amalgam of the surviving unions which have taken refuge in the wooded hills near the city. The nature of their philosophy is a secondary consideration to the need for deposing this monarchy, which is beginning to literally suck the life from the land that the guerrillas inhabit, if the reports are to be believed; it is the supernatural wizening and necrotizing of nature as a weapon of war. We have reached out to the Forester’s Union about lending them direct aid and they have given a guarded consent, but be wary, because in normal times they consider us to be their primary enemies.

Her Picture Keeps Me Warm (MALG2HPKMW): Princess Laskalia is the last free member of her city-state’s royal family and high government; the king, the princes, the marshals, the castellans, all killed or captured. The people flock to the Princess’s banner, but they fought as levies before, raised with their rifles and shotguns when war came but were otherwise men of the soil or steam engine. They need dedicated, professional, coolheaded, and politically-unobligated leadership. This is where you come in. Be warned; Laskalia is a figure of great charisma and is held in reverence by the common people of this realm. Appearing to defy her, disrespect her or go against her wishes will anger and alienate them, so the first step of your mission is likely to be winning her over to your vision of the path to victory. You could demonstrate your capabilities with a successful mission, you could take her path and win on personal magnetism. We leave that up to you.

Faith and Hope (MALG3FAH): The Jastialana Movement are the only coherent resistance remaining in the city-state; their fanaticism gives them the backbone that has been necessary to stay in the fight after all of the other factions have folded.

This is due to their faith in an entity which is guiding their activities. We have a highly-sensitive dual objective from you: support the Jastialana Movement in their shadow war against the invader, but at the same time, seek to wrest them from the grip of the entity that they worship. Destroy it, banish it, minimize it, or, in the worst case scenario, set the Jastialanas up for a fall after helping them win victory over the invaders; the only thing worse than the creation of an empire with this city-state as its tax base would be for it to be ruled by occultists.

Rebels
Divine Right (MALR1DR): The aristocracy of Azenpart has transformed over the last year. Whereas before they were idle, speculative and disinterested in governance, now they are edgy, focused and increasingly tyrannical along arbitrary lines. Assassins from the commons have struck against expropriating nobles on a few occasions with bizarre results; one nobleman, when shot, bloated up like a giant strawberry and then popped through the gunshot wound. When stabbed, another emitted a poison dust that caused fatal psychological dissociation in those around his body. A third noble, when fired upon, drove his motorcar at the cafe where the assassins were firing from, bailed out, and by the time the car reached the windows of the cafe it was a glob of molten metal; those shooters who weren’t struck directly by the car were baked to death in moments from the ambient heat. When a nascent conspiracy was discovered, a lone noble went into the apartment with the conspirators and a horrific retching was heard from the street. Superacid melted through the floor of the apartment in question and cut through a few apartments below it, and all that was found of the conspirators were a few severely degraded bones. Travel to Azenpart and help the people overthrow these nobles with their hideous powers and, if possible, discover how they came to be.

Margraves All (MALR2MA): The social structure of the hill-city of Gradania is unusual; the people compete to live near the walls so as to defend the city against the nearby hill tribes, who present a constant threat of infiltration, kidnapping and arson. Prestige is gained by living near the walls and defending against the tribes; other endeavors are regarded as being less honorable and less praiseworthy. Now, a conspiracy of low-status but wealthy landlords in the center of the city have pooled their resources and built a network citadel in the center of the city out of a number of dilapidated manors and office buildings; they have hired a small mercenary army of outsiders flown into the city’s central airstrip, conspired with the nearby bandit tribes, and launched a two-pronged inner-outer assault on the outer wall districts. The already-embattled wall neighborhoods couldn’t stand up to this, and largely folded. The landlords declared a new government where the center of the city would be the executive center, and now only isolated rebel bands remain, and the tribesmen have penetrated the outer wall for the first time. They are engaging in increasingly-hostile negotiations with the city-core landlords; soon they may decide that they’d just like to take the tower/manor fortress as well. Travel to Gradania, link up with the rebels, and restore the elective City Wall Council or another functional, non-tyrannical form of government.

Blockade Runner (MALR3BR): The barricades have been laid in the city’s innermost quarter. The courthouses, prisons and arsenals have all been seized and fortified. Now the rebels are embattled. No one thought that the State Gendarmerie could be recalled from their farmstations with such speed. They have the rebels mostly surrounded, although neither side greatly outnumbers the other. The issue (besides crack Gendarmerie marksmanship) is that trains from sympathetic city-states are being laden with artillery; the rebels seized the city-state’s artillery but can’t employ it effectively. Should the Gendarmes receive their contingent of artillery, they’ll begin knocking down the very structures that the rebels inhabit. Get to the center of the city and lead them in a breakout through the Gendarmerie’s line, and if you’d like a fat bonus, find a way to help them take over the incoming trains. Beware, however, that these are citizens, not soldiers; in a pitched battle against the Gendarmerie, they are likely to take heavy casualties unless they have some other special advantage.

Tribes
Demonic Mothbat Crocodile Spiders (MALT1DMCS): The Fastoak Tribe is fighting a war against demonic tyrants. In this world, these tyrants take the form of giant mothbats roughly the size of tennis rackets, but spiritually they are a form of fire-girt crocodile spider. Wherever the mothbats migrate, the endeavors of the tribesmen fail. They are cursed, thwarted, misled, confounded. In the godplane, the crocodile spiders assail them, devour their sages, burn their spiritual fastnesses and scatter their precious sacrifices to the wind so that the trickster spirits can swallow them up like crows on crumbs. Some among the Fastoak Tribe feel that they have become too steeped in tradition and recursive communication with the Gods, and that it is time to bring in an outside to serve as a balance, foil or talisman. That’s where you come in. Travel to the Fastoaks, do what you can to uncover the origins and natures of the mothbats, and then enter the Godplane with the Fastoak rootburners and free the tribesmen from the specter of these monsters once and for all. 

A Whispering Crack (MALT2AWC): Influence amongst the Gushmark tribes comes from a strange place. The tribal chieftains have discovered a whispering crack in a pile of giant rocks at the heart of their traditional hunting grounds. They retire to this place to make their decisions for their tribes and use this to claim overweening spiritual authority. Their decisions have grown increasingly oriented around making dangerous expeditions into the depths of the earth to acquire rare minerals with special properties rather than carrying out the tribes’ traditional way of life, cattle raiding.

Several of the tribes have risen up in rebellion and been ruthlessly attacked by the tribes of the most powerful leaders within the confederation; the leaders themselves have not been seen in some time, but whisper counsel to the tribal princes from the rocky slit into which they’ve delved. The tribes feel that if they enter this place to dispose of the tyrants which are carrying their clans’ destiny into the depths of the abyss, they will be burnt and swallowed up and never return. They feel that a group of outsiders is likely to be untouched by the spiritual magic of the chieftains’ redoubt. They want you to enter this crag and root out the chieftains once and for all. The chieftain’s redoubt is like a vast orrery is a space of infinite blackness; there is an outwards gravitational pull from the golden orb at the heart of the orrery, which contains two shining doorways of pure light; one through which the party will enter the orrery, the other through which the party may exit it (the entrance is in the rock cleft; the exit is in a seacave off the Little Iguanas archipelago. There are a number of slowly revolving concentric golden rings surrounding the golden orb; these are the primary walking surface of this place.

The chieftains are here, but have been made into statues made entirely of razor-sharp gears by unknown entities; they will attempt to pick you up (shredding you where ever they grab you) and stuff you into their bodies, or simply knock you off the orrery into the infinite darkness. Be cautious when employing explosions against them, as their razor-gears will make for profoundly deadly shrapnel.

The Rot of Milk and Honey (MALT3TROMAH): The Greengust people inhabit a vast, fertile plain of shaggy aurochs and wild strawberries. They subjugated and integrated the largest nearby tribes over a hundred years ago and have enjoyed a multigenerational stretch of good grazing and only the mildest levels of internecine warfare. Their beef festivals and strawberry wine are famous throughout the continent, and even civilized people may travel among them to trade and hear their songs.

Now, however, there is a new force at play among the Greengusts. A second tribal people have emerged from the truffle forests of Gar and settled among the actual yurts of the Greengusts, pinning up their caravan flaps between Greengust homes and eating the sows and strawberries of the field. If this were not enough, the people of Gar cultivate powerful spirit mushrooms from their forest in reeking night soil troughs in their caravans and then eat these mushrooms by the dozen at night, driving them into a state of berserker frenzy and revelation. The Greengusts have been utterly divided on what to do about this situation; there is a faction among them that speaks of the coming of Gar as the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy of spiritual unity and tribal kingship, and so far their zeal for this perspective has carried the day.

Meanwhile more and more mushroom caravans of Gar have come dancing and screaming into the yurtholds of Greengust. Finally the deadlock came to a head when numerous Greengust priests and supplicants came to dine in the mushroom pit of Gar one night and were instead dined upon; this has caused consternation among some of the Greengust prophetic faction, but has simply inspired an apocalyptic fervor in the rest. However, many of the peripheral Greengust tribal leaders have now had enough and have decided to drive Gar and their supporters out of Greengust, but because they have never had to countenance such a thing before they are contracting you, of what they call ‘the Anti-Spirit Tribe’, to lead them in their campaign.

Populace
Jackal Saviors (MALP1JS): The city-state was completely defeated; the military crushed, the government domestically overthrown. It is now an engine of tyranny. The people turned to pirate captains to lead them against an aggressor but the subsequent preying-upon of natural merchants has made them cynical and disenchanted; far less willing and able to defend their city-state from anything but the most naked aggression. Alas, they have come to rely on the pirate captains, their ships and the wealth that comes from their way of life, and cannot imagine doing without it now.

The prophecies of this city’s path indicate the coming of outsiders to save it in its hour of peril. They believed in the pirates as a fulfillment of the prophecy; you must show them that their elevation was preemptive. Travel to this city and take on the role of its saviors. Do not fail and do not disenchant them, or they will be left with nothing. Do not desert them in the darkest hour, for you may win them back even then. Do not allow them to become the vipers of the sea after this scarring of the soul; find a way to weave them back into the international quilt.

Support
Leader
Blue Spruce and Mule Deer (MASL1BSAMD): A bandit tribe chieftain is facing discord from his subordinate clans while simultaneously standing off a confederation of heavily-armed, well-equipped and well-provisioned cannibals. Some clans think they should abandon their highland pass homeland and seek greener pastures elsewhere, but the perspective of the chieftain is that by abandoning their tutelary spirits they will disconnect themselves from all guidance and aid in a new and unfriendly land. Travel to this chieftain and bolster him and his cause however you can, lest this horde of cannibal reavers break through into softer lands.

War of Appeasement (MASL2WOA): A charismatic leader of a frontier militia is rallying herdsmen and shepherds to his cause in defense of raiders who come for their livestock. These raiders are not like common thieves who will run from battle and beg for their lives; they are grim, determined and practiced.
The raiders aren’t coming for the livestock as a source of food or prestige, though the militia aren’t aware of this. They’re sacrificing the bulls, calves and heifers to an entity that is in love with the smell of roast meat. The entity guides them through the wilderness, but they greatly fear its wrath.

Help this man, lest this entity be empowered or driven truly mad with lust for the scent of burning flesh.

Controlled Burn (MASL3CB): A tough, vicious, fanatical resistance leader is mounting a determined opposition to an occupying force; the brutality of both the occupiers and the resistance has grown in tandem and is threatening to devolve into a scorched-earth situation. Help this resistance leader but counsel him against drastic measures because there will be contracts galore should he drive out the invaders, but none to speak of if the city-state is ruined.

Movement 
Heroic Archetypes (MASM1HA): There is no culture of martial valor in the artist-city of Ygra, but now that it’s been invaded, gradually one is coalescing around a nearly forgotten artistic tradition of romantic heroism. The people of this city are gradually preparing to organize themselves and rise up against the invader; what they need in the meanwhile is for someone to take the pressure off them until they can employ the funds and amateur foreign volunteers pouring in from freer societies. Travel to Ygra, create a space for this movement to flourish, and ultimately, provide them with an inspiration that they can follow into the breach, and victory.

Violence ISO Nonviolence (MASM2VISON): The resistance movement of the subjugated folk of Galanar has been thoroughly crushed. There is nothing left to do with the gun and bomb; the people can ill-afford further brutal reprisals. All that may be done is to bring the eye of the world upon this place and to make it un-worth it for the invader to dominate. Few strategies are more effective for this than nonviolent resistance, but there are yet a few surviving, influential resistance leaders who will sacrifice their own lives and their city-state to blow smoke into the eyes of their captors.

This is not the way forward; travel to Galanar and persuade them to adopt nonviolent tactics to bring whatever international pressure is possible onto the invader. Meanwhile, do whatever is possible to support their movement. Do whatever the people of Galanar can no longer be caught in the act of doing, whether that’s opening the city to food supplies, smuggling or breaking influential thinkers out of jail or the city, or, as a last resort eliminating invader leaders who favor the destruction of the city over its abandonment; but be warned, killing someone from the occupation who isn’t disfavored with his own leadership is likely to lead to an even greater reprisal.

Mercenary Paladins (MASM2MP): With the fall of the Citadel of Galentael, there is no pretending anymore that the Kingdom of Blasphere is engaged in some kind of sporting border skirmish. The enemy has won out while the degraded nobility of Galentale idled on their storybook estates, discussing possibilities over rounds of polo while actualities played out in the lands of their subjects.

They has been a rentier class for some time; gone are the olden days of plate mail, blood-soaked broadswords and battlefield coronations. Here is perfume, picnicking, lepidopterology and the first hints of cultural irony among the highest classes. But they are the only unifiers and administrators this culture has. They are some of the only educated people; some of the only people with the possibility of organizing a resistance.

Now talk has begun to bloom of Blasphere’s founding myths; of paladins, errantry, chivalry. The sleeping ghost of the warrior knight has begun to awaken, but the bodies, hearts and minds of the Blaspherian nobility are ill-fitted for such armor. You must travel there and safeguard the budding chrysalis of warrior aristocracy; you must ensure that the spirit and estates of the Blaspherian gentes are not prematurely crushed, and do what you can to help them rediscover their legacy and cultivate the heroic and the obligated. Otherwise, the enemy will be greatly strengthened on the fattened larders, lands and treasuries of Blasphere.

Shepherd and Sling (MASM3SAS): The city is lost; it burns and is bombarded. The infrastructure is ruined, the factories collapsed, the food supply cut off. The only future for the people of Tarielyar is in exodus and emigration. There is an international movement to help them from nearby city states; ships coming to evacuate them, carts and trucks to smuggle them away through the forest lanes. This is not the desire of the invader, who would hem them all up in the city and then reduce them to peonage in his good time. You must do everything you can to support these transporters, perhaps even adding to their number, and to help the people of Tarielyar escape the debellatio of their home while the invader seeks to crush the relief columns and lay an iron yoke upon these harrowed folk.

Bonus
The Kingdom of Outreclad is preparing to ford the Tumescent Strait with its new fleet of amphibious tanks, but the enemy has developed an amphibious weapon of its own: interceptor barges. These cheaply lashed-together barges can carry the enemy’s abundant field guns without need for a fleet-in-being, and they are towed by shoals of large sharks bred in the enemy’s nascent submarine pens. The sharks are leashed to one another so that when they swim they do so in roughly the same direction, and they are also individually lashed to the barge in question. When an enemy ship is damaged and there’s blood in the water, the crew of the barge can activate a fuse inside the waterproof reins to an individual shark and let it speed ahead; the fuse will reach the shark’s body in a few minutes, which contains a surgically-implanted depth charge which will help to crumple any ships near the shark’s point of detonation. The crew of the barge can and will detonate all sharks at once like a team of explosive murder-reindeer-missiles with glowing red noses when they get close enough to an enemy ship, though if they choose to detonate only a certain percentage of their sharks they sacrifice thrust, as retained sharks in vicinity of those detontating are likely to be maimed and killed. Prevent the enemy from employing this mad weapon against the Outreclad tank fleet, and if you cannot stop the threat entirely, travel with the tank column and assist them in defending themselves from this menace below.

1 comment:

  1. I know I've probably said this already, but this thing is just so imaginatively rich it beggars belief.

    There does seem to be a stylistic change in the Inspire Leadership category, but I don't know if it's anything I would have caught without it being pointed out. Those entries feel more like verse, to me, somehow.

    I don't think I saw any of the names in the rough draft. Many of the names are really funny or incredibly obscure, often both: I was like wtf is Xtapolapocetl expecting some death god with a necklace of human sex organs for a necklace from the Florentine Codex that I'd forgotten and laughed my ass off when I found that wasn't it at ALL. I will say that in certain cases in the original text I read, I conflated two of the ideas together simply because they were right next to each other and didn't have the names to divide them and it detracted exactly NOTHING AT ALL from either the pleasure of reading them or their utility as ideas for games. Well done.

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Art - First Run