Monday, September 26, 2022

Blood Opera: The Six Parties of Passwall

Six opposed PC parties in the city-state of Passwall.


Anarcho-Syndicalist Cadres
Political Officer
Cultural Officer
Militia Liaison
Foreman Engineer

Chevauchée - Knights Choleric
Knight of the Rose
Knight Hermetic
Knight of the Ring
Knight of the Arsenal
Knight of the Lion

City-State Task Force
High Bondsman
Thief Taker

Errantry - Knights Sanguine
Knight of the High Road
Knight of the City Wall
Knight of the Sun
Knight of the Skull
Knight of the Range

Occultist Cell
Antinatalist Terrorist
Ultranationalist Revanchist

Underworld Circle
Runaway Slave

Resolutions of Play
1: RPG
2: Super Blood Opera
Option: Hong Kong Heroic Bloodshed
Skill Explanation: Intimidate (Ingroup)

Anarcho-Syndicalist Cadres

    Collective Objectives
Overthrow the government of Passwall, institute Anarcho-Syndicalist union rule guided by representatives from the City of Leagues, eliminate aristocratic, occult and counterrevolutionary elements, co-opt or eliminate incorrigible lumpenproletariat elements.

    Political Officer
The overall authority within the cadre cell despite its notional egalitarianism, he is regarded by their mother City of Leagues as the first authority in political matters wherever he is present. He is concerned with converting the city’s unions to Anarcho-Syndicalism, unionizing non-unionized workers, and ensuring the city’s foremen are loyal to Anarcho-Syndicalism and the City of Leagues.

The Political Officer came up as a Peculiar Commission Inspector, a secret policemen of the City of Leagues, and his abilities as a torturer and an assassin are not to be underestimated. He secretly sees himself as a kind of smoky deity whose judgmental scowl will be capable of terrifying the city’s organizers into rearranging themselves along Syndicalist lines once his capacity for punishment has been sufficiently made clear to them.

4: Intimidation (Ingroup) - Description at end of post
3: Stealth, Interrogate, Tactical Combat, Logistics, Wits, Administration
2: Prowess, Pharmaceutical, Clandestine Tradecraft, Lore

    Cultural Officer
The cell’s representative to locals when the direct action of the Political Officer would be too heavy-handed. The Cultural Officer establishes contacts who are likely to aid the movement, and knows how to go undercover in societies which he’s studied. He is enthusiastic about local cultural elements and is capable of discussing things without an ideological slant, so he can bond with potential allies over sports, wine, shared mechanical interests and so forth. He genuinely cares for people whom the cell is allied with and revels in their enthusiasm; should the decision be made to kill them, he will weep and will not personally participate, but he will get on with the cell’s mission afterwards. Ultimately the sacrifices made by the cell’s ablative allies will be worth it when all people get to enjoy that enthusiasm and camaraderie in perpetuity.

4: Befriend
3: Undercover, Prowess, Conduct Anarcho-Syndicalist Theater, Lore, Wits
2: Stealth, Tactical Combat, Clandestine Tradecraft, Orienteering

    Militia Liaison
This man’s job is to organize the local unions into secret militias that will rise up when the employment phase of the operation is reached. He is a no-nonsense, conscientious soldier, and would execute the dictates of his state whether he had been born in a monarchy, republic, dictatorship, tribe, or totalitarian system. He happens to be from the City of Leagues, and understands Anarcho-Syndicalist doctrine as catechism; he can recite points but not make any kind of flexible argument for them. He has heard other arguments and seen other ways of life; so far he has neglected to really listen or reflect on the deep implications of what he has seen.

4: Tactical Combat, Combat Leadership, Prowess, Orienteering, Wits
3: Demo, Stealth
2: Intimidate (Ingroup)

    Foreman Engineer
This man is a whiz in industrial engineering and supply logistics, and also capable of functioning as a combat engineer (quick use of concrete, wood, vehicles and demolitions in fortification, bridging, and breaching). His job is also as a union organizer on the practical level; when a union accepts or otherwise receives Leagues’ support and/or control, experts like this Foreman Engineer are deployed to assist them in the practical matters of production. Part of Anarcho-Syndicalism’s legitimacy problem is in trying to outproduce democratic capitalists, so while the Foreman Engineer is an excellent mechanic and inventor, he’s also capable of managing working crews, ideally with aid of the Political Officer to keep counterrevolutionary elements within the workforce from sabotaging the entire enterprise.

4: Industrial Engineering, Supply Logistics
3: Combat Engineering, Demo, Tactical Combat, Tech Lore
2: Intimidate (Ingroup), Stealth

Chevauchée - Knights Choleric

Collective Objective
Engage in an urban chevauchée, coming out of the city with as much treasure as possible by any means necessary. This can be a lightning raid or a slow burn, slowly extracting whatever valuables they can lay hands on.

    Knight of the Rose
This knight serves bounties as a way of life and has a tight relationship with the High Bondsman and the Thief Taker. He has no ideological loyalty to them, nor for anything but his way of life; for some Knights of the Rose it’s about justice, swift and terrible. For this man, it is the ultimate hunt, the ultimate game, and he has no problem working with criminals, revolutionaries, black marketeers so long as they have not been sentenced by a court that his Order regards as legitimate.

He will serve bounties here until the time to seize Passwall’s wealth by other means comes about; then, he will throw off his Order’s mantle and engage in the eldest form of aristocratic raiding.

4: Social Urban Tracking, Wilderness Tracking, Tactical Combat, Prowess, Wits
3: Interrogate
2: Urban Stealth, Orienteering, Demo

    Knight Hermetic
This man’s experiments have unearthed many tinctures and alloys capable of physically and psychologically altering their user; he saves most of them for emergencies but uses others more or less continuously. Some are applied just to keep the effects of others at bay, and the Knight Hermetic is engaged in a continual battle of brinksmanship and one-upsmanship with his own body and alchemical skill.

He has developed a psychological solvent that sends him into epileptic comas in which he apprehends every rivet and strut of a great war machine, but cannot quite yet grasp the totality; when he is able to, he will make his proposition to his comrades and they will build a weapon capable of overthrowing an entire recalcitrant polity.

4: Alchemy, Mechanical Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Demo, Interrogate
3: Tactical Combat, Prowess, Lore
2: Wits, Stealth

    Knight of the Ring
This man has already succeeded in his quest for eternal life, but he has not removed the limitations of his own bodily integrity. While his body now consists of a kind of mantle composed of a mulched composite of many people’s bodies, vitiated and composed and colored in the mode of a standard body through aid of the Knight Hermetic, he must watch for piercing attacks and explosions that could dismember him, for he could resemble a torn-apart pile of pink cotton candy yet still live. His horror is the thought that he might have to return to hte flesh pit and grind up even more people to reconsitutie his body; his memory of the last round beneath the moaning tincture and the Knight Hermetic’s hideous belching awakens him in a seizure of guilt at night, though he drowns it by sprinting from his bedchambers and hurling things until he is fully awake and able to impose structure onto his own thought.

4: Lore, Wits, Prowess, Tactical Combat, Stealth
3: Alchemy
2: Orienteering, Undercover

    Knight of the Arsenal
This man has just emerged from his Order’s training and regards himself as having a pitiful arsenal, merely a few firearms and a single hand grenade. His dream is to seize and stash away mortars, flamethrowers, artillery guns, bomber planes and such until no problem can resist him and his squires with a week or so’s preparation. His companions are interested in their own particular assets for seizure, but the Knight of the Arsenal is only concerned about e.g. gold or esoteric knowledge assuming it can be traded for armaments on the black market or aid in seizing them wherever they can be found. The Knight of the Arsenal dreams about looting the city’s military armories or patrol houses, and in the meantime he will be hard pressed to resist murdering policemen or attacking well-prepared Anarcho-Syndicalists or Knights Sanguine for their arms if he gets a chance.

4: Tactical Combat, Wits, Prowess, Mechanics, 
3: Stealth, Demo, Orienteering, Driving
2: Alchemy

    Knight of the Lion
The Sun Lion does not condone violence in service of anything but this robber knight has turned his pistols to the faces of innocents, robbing on the high roads, sticking up banks, and shooting down couriers for their cargoes. He has had to leave city-state after city-state due to gunbattles with security forces, and for a time he led a lonely existence as a highwayman. Finally he’s found worthy companions and just wishes to continue his campaign of robbery and sudden dueling with their approbation.

4: Ride, Stealth, Wilderness Tracking, Tactical Combat, Wits
3: Demo, Orienteering
2: Lore, Interrogate

City-State Task Force

Collective Objective
Bring long-term stability to the city-state.

He does fieldwork to make his case airtight and is used to dealing with assassination attempts in the process; he’s very hands on for a legal practitioner. He sees the storm clouds gathering and will make his play at dispelling them on the stages that are his to command: the hall of judgement, and wherever malefactors come for him in the city’s ambush alleys.

He sees the Anarcho-Syndicalists as a kind of dark mirror version of his Task Force, like a tiger waiting to drive the current government from its perch should it falter. The Prosecutor is well aware of his companions’ corrupt or totalitarian temptations, and he knows all too well that the Anarcho-Syndicalists will quickly usurp the charter of the Passwall government should the Task Force fail to prove legitimate and effective in the face of all its threats.

A well-evidenced, successful prosecution is highly legitimate to the general populace and generally removes an actor from the equation, unless he’s able to control his organization from inside prison or bust out. A convicted and imprisoned individual may remain a symbol to his followers, but nevertheless the legitimacy issue applies amongst the general population.

4: Orate, Prowess, Law, Wits, Interrogate
3: CSI, Social Urban Tracking, Tactical Combat, Lore
2: Befriend, Stealth, Undercover, Clandestine Tradecraft, Driving

He is responsible for public order and runs the city’s patrol, doing as much or as little hands-on work as he feels is appropriate. This man suffers from a totalitarian disgust impulse that’s worsening all the time; he wants to impose draconian punishment given the situation and will ask for such reforms from the rest of the task force, who have wide latitude in moving the judiciary to implement such a thing under the circumstances. His desire to punish those who step outside his sense of good dealing and propriety is such that soon he will begin feeling an inner call to dispense with the city’s homeless, peddlers, squatters and certain residential outsiders by any means necessary.

4: Combat Leadership, Tactical Combat, Wits, CSI
3: Social Urban Tracking, Stealth, Clandestine Tradecraft, Law, Interrogate
2: Lore, Orienteering, Wilderness Tracking, Intimidation (Ingroup), Driving

    High Bondsman
Kingpin of the penal system, he receives bonds from inmates for their release, and he retains bail bondsmen who are loyal only to him and the golden coin. His desire is to farm inmates and expand his prison, and he lobbies the Prosecutor, the Sheriff, and the judiciary to reduce the city’s threshold for convictions. While so far he has not stepped outside his charter, he is fully aware many of his bondsmen would kill for him, and it would be just as simple to have particularly recalcitrant prisoners or certain other individuals slipped into oubliettes in the innermost reaches of his concrete fief…

4: Social Urban Tracking, Financial Acumen, Administration, Logistics
3: Wits, Befriend, Prowess, Undercover, Tactical Combat, Lore
2: CSI, Law, Clandestine Tradecraft, Driving, Stealth

He is responsible for apprehending fugitives, and he can deputize groups of citizens to this effect. He is permitted to resell assets seized from convicted racketeers; normally this finances public works and the operations of the task force, but the temptation to double dip on this or use it for the radical empowerment of the Task Force at the expense of traditional law enforcement and even the city’s small military has not escaped this man’s waking thoughts.

4: Combat Leadership, Social Urban Tracking Tactical Combat, Undercover, Wits, Driving, Prowess
3: Financial Acumen, Administration, Logistics, Law, Intimidation (Ingroup), Wilderness Tracking, Stealth, CSI
2: Lore, Clandestine Tradecraft, Interrogate

    Thief Taker
This man is an underworld asset shared between the Task Force’s three high officials; he’s an (ostensibly) ex-criminal, so he knows the underworld, and how to take slippery men into custody, and where to recover stolen goods, but the temptation to take bribes and abuse his power is overwhelming, and many are the capos and black marketeers who have offered him lucrative double agent status.

4: Undercover, Social Urban Tracking, Befriend, Prowess, Underworld Lore, Stealth
3: Wits, Financial Acumen, Interrogate, CSI
2: Law, Clandestine Tradecraft, Driving

Errantry - Knights Sanguine

Collective Objective
Engage in urban chivalry, bring order to chaos and freedom to tyranny

    Knight of the High Road
This man has led his companions to this place; they are his equals, but the power of his vision was sufficient to unite their aim. Many look at the city and see a pit of vipers preparing for mutual annihilation in a cloud of venomsoaked gunpowder, but he sees ten thousand people who are worth guarding as they continue on their way, but whose sanctuary is wavering between falling into the abyss or being crushed beneath an ironclad heel.

He is a man of the road and is used to dealing with bandits, pioneers and tribesmen. He can handle immediate personal danger but the complexity of a barely post-aristocratic industrial city-state and its competing power blocs and ideologies will become the true measure of his vision; will he remain fixed upon his goal of bringing order to chaos, will he expand his vision to encompass all elements and attempt to bring them into harmony or balance sufficient that the city might right itself enough to be departed, or will he be so scorched by the situation’s recalcitrant complexity and ideological underpinnings that he gives up on his task and resorts to draconianism or descends into corruption?

4: Ride, Wits, Tactical Combat, Wilderness Tracking, Prowess, Orienteering
3: Lore, Interrogate, Orate, Stealth
2: Law, CSI, Befriend

    Knight of the City Wall
The Knight has a one-pointed commitment to investigating and destroying the Occult; he will aid his companions in their quests, but expects that in return they will devote themselves as well to uncovering methods of combating the Occult and assaulting it whenever it is found. He is not interested in combatting predation and totalitarianism assuming it is not underpinned by the Occult, and does so only mechanically when aiding his companions. Unlike most of the aristocratic, idealistic knights in his company, he has no problem dealing with the Anarcho-Syndicalists or the underworld; they are human things.

4: Lore, Alchemy, Demo, Tactical Combat, Wits
3: Prowess, Orienteering, Wilderness Tracking, Stealth
2: Orienteering, Interrogate

    Knight of the Sun
The Sun Griffon has little doctrine regarding nonviolence; virtues are battle prowess, health, and masculine gallantry, not moderation. Furthermore, the Griffon’s faith provides little defense against secular ideologies whose methods of discourse ape the scientific method. The beast is easily abandoned in an industrial age. Nonetheless, this knight will seek battle against ‘the forces of darkness’ until he sees what they’re really made of, and then the battle over his soul will commence.

4: Tactical Combat, Prowess, Befriend, Drive
3: Wits, Interrogate
2: Lore, Stealth, Orienteering, Demo

    Knight of the Skull
An old man who has scrupulously maintained his health; his white beard spills from open helm. He attempts to counsel people in high places, but tends to neglect those who are humble but influential, and he cannot always see that an example, a dilemma, or a forced impetus to action may be what is required for a leader to take adaptive action, rather than earnest argumentation.

4: Befriend, Lore, Ride, Wilderness Tracking, Orienteering
3: Orate, Tactical Combat, Prowess, Stealth, Wits
2: Interrogate, CSI, Alchemy

    Knight of the Range
He has an instinctive sense of fair play, but range wars have given him a greater trust in frontier justice than due process, and he is more prone to the quickdraw than people are used to in a city not yet in chaos. While the Task Force is aware that aid from the Knights Sanguine could turn the tide in their favor, if they come to be viewed as just another gang of careless, chaotic outsiders, their presence will work against the Task Force, perhaps fatally for one party or the other.

4: Tactical Combat, Prowess, Ride, Orienteering, Wilderness Tracking, Wits
3: Stealth, Interrogate
2: Lore

Occultist Cell

Collective Objective
Expand obligation to the Entity in the city-state of Passwall until you bring about a situation where the leaders of Passwall, whoever they are, are under the direct dominion of the Entity.

Derive Occultist and Entity from this post or use one of the sample Occultist-Entity combinations (When You Wish Upon a Star or Day of the Tentacle).
The Occultist remains enslaved to Entity. Reroll Catharsis - Freedom results.

4: Aberrate
3: Derive from character
2: Derive from character

(Sample spread:
4: Aberrate
3: Lore, Stealth, Interrogate, Wits, Alchemy, Pharmaceutical, Intimidate (Ingroup)
2: Befriend, Clandestine Tradecraft, Prowess, Administration)

    Antinatalist Terrorist
This man started out killing people out of sheer hatred of the human race, but while the rest of the members of his loose social network ended up on the gallows or plunging headfirst from bridges and buildings, he found that he was able to keep one step ahead of the law by going city-state to city-state, eventually finding some sense of purpose by selling his services as a mercenary terrorist. Guns and arson were gradually joined by bombs and booby traps, until finally with his final client he found the sense of purpose he’d lacked. The Occultist who’d hired him served an actual supernatural Entity, the closest thing to a divinity imaginable by the erstwhile mercenary, and he gave himself heart and soul to the creature- retaining his Antinatalism, which was a matter for humans, anyhow.

4: Demo, Stealth, Traps
3: Tactical Combat, Interrogate, Wits
2: Orienteering, Prowess, Undercover, Driving

    Ultranationalist Revanchist
His foreign city has been defeated on the world scene and has been subjected to permanent losses of assets and a subordinate position. He is so utterly consumed with rage that he has made a Faustian pact with the Occult. His desire is for the destruction of his society’s erstwhile enemies and the ultimate vindication of their cause (or the Occult destruction of the world, though he’s never explicitly articulated this). He is no longer in control of his fate but he has not yet been shown this clearly. He’s willing to do whatever it takes in this city to win the Entity’s power in service to his goal.

4: Tactical Combat, Stealth, Demo, Wits, Orienteering
3: Wilderness Tracking, Prowess, Interrogate
2: Lore, Orate, Driving, Undercover

Co-opted by the Occultist; he had a chance to pack up and leave, but even though he’d benefitted his employees, provided value to customers, and even engaged in philanthropy, he had no deep wisdom or conviction to stand on when the Occultist began moving to capture him, and ultimately he capitulated and adopted the Entity as his superordinate cause. His own subordinate motivation is to eliminate the Anarcho-Syndicalists, and the Entity has stoked his resentments in this direction; he now blames them for the nascent Union movement within his workforce, which is actually coming about for the first time due to his own budding misconduct. The Anarcho-Syndicalist cadres attribute this new unionism to their own efforts, but can’t figure out why they can’t win the full cooperation of these particular unions; the Political Officer is considering eliminating the foremen and enforcing co-option of the Unions, the Cultural Officer is attempting to moderate the Political Officer’s view and get the unions to come over to Anarcho-Syndicalism, the Militia Foreman is scouting worksites to have the men buried alive when the order comes down, and the Engineer is too busy focusing on the logistics of their production apparatuses to weigh in on the political issue.

4: Financial Acumen, Administration, Supply Logistics
3: Befriend, Driving
2: Wits, Prowess, Stealth

Underworld Circle

Collective Objective
Get rich or die tryin’ 

She almost made it. Streetwalker, then call girl, then courtesan, and she was on her way to madam before an unfortunate development of the HSV variety took her out of the demi-monde. She swore that she would never return to the streets, but nor would she take some ugly job in the service industry where her lowborn former johns would sneer at her. Instead, she took up with a new band of hell-raisers on the littoral stygian, joining in the relatively newer profession of thievery.

Now that she’s left the world of paid sex and companionship (making a possible exception for fraud), the part of her that wishes for a genuine, deep romance is awakening, but she’s forced to engage in a twin struggle with her serious complex around sex and with how to approach her latent genital herpes when she meets an available man whom she respects. This is not even to begin to deal with the other ways in which her former life could present her challenges in such a thing; she has little regard for wives, she’s gotten out of the habit of dating poor men, she has little experience dealing with honest ones, and her ability to be genuinely vulnerable has not quite yet awakened.

4: Wits, Allure, Social Urban Tracking
3: Financial Acumen, Befriend, Stealth, Drive
2: Lore, Prowess, Interrogate, CSI, Pharmaceuticals

Some things are simple, some things are not. The Army of Periapt was simple. The assembly line was simple. Getting arbitrarily laid off was not simple. Going hat in hand was not simple. A life without pride, purpose, without context was not simple. It broke him night after night.

He was one of thousands downsized but he blamed himself until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Moonshine dulled the pain, gave him a sense of adventure and fun he’d never known before. He struck out with a band of hobos one day, just like being on patrol but as loud, as footloose and as drunk as he cared. They passed around a pipe filled with something teal. He looked at it for a moment. It shimmered. He smoked it. The others became demons and he realized he was already dead. He would inhabit a nether realm where none but the demons could perceive him for all time. Their smiles terrified him and he ran until everything was an underworld where every flicker of light carried the utmost provenance; a place of cosmic import and cosmic alienness. 

He woke up in Attar. Another continent. He was a changed man; he had gestated in the place of cosmic miracle and its numinous, involuntary power.

From that moment he suffered oracular visions accompanied by violent seizures and glossolalia. He was burdened by their terrible truth.

Perhaps he was meant as an oracle, a prophet, and there would be no escaping that even in death. But he was still a body, and if he was to execute his charter, he would have to eat, be warmed, perhaps be sheltered. He had become a survivor, no matter what, for the weird fire burned within him, and he joined with several others that they might summon up enough riches to bring about their respective destinies.

4: Oracular Visions, Scavenge, Stealth, Lore, Orienteering, Wilderness Tracking
3: Prowess, Tactical Combat, Traps, Demo
2: Interrogate, Befriend, CSI, Mechanics

Some stole from expedience; a few from absolute necessity. He stole from sheer perversity; he had a good life as a shoemaker’s apprentice when his urchinage terminated with the smile of a kind cobbler, but after awhile he made out with a sack full of expensive shoes and started on the high road, never again to work his fingers raw (except on a lyre or a lockpick). They were delicate like a pianist’s, and he’d picked pockets until he realized that the richest artifacts short of High Lane jewelry were to be found behind lock and key.

His tale has been an annal of thievery since that day, the thrill of it exceeding the pleasure of the plunder. Sometimes the night turns to absolute terror and he swears off his ways, but as he runs with stifled cackle from a crime scene or precinct house, he forgets his vows and longs for his next stolen score.

4: Stealth, Wits, Mechanics, Prowess, Undercover, Drive
3: Financial Acumen, Lore, Social Urban Tracking
2: Tactical Combat, CSI

    Runaway Slave
Life started out in a shack on the fields and that was where he worked until his good looks and poise took him into the great house as a suitable representative of the nobility of his captors. He waited their tables and tended their linens until the master’s daughter used him in a sexual experiment; though he was a servile, evidently his readiness from being on a blade between death and wild freedom offered the lady something she’d not found among the pallid princelings of their latifundia network.

Suspected with unprovable transgressions, he was cast into the mines by his master; this was a deed that would not disrupt the master’s familial relationships to the extent that an execution would have, yet nevertheless amounted to an execution. The lady’s favorite struggled in the mines, growing mighty but losing every ounce of fat until his body threatened to consume itself as so many had; on the night when he felt the weakness begin to overtake him, she came to him and undid his chains.

He ran until his feet bled and then he crawled. He escaped those lands and swore that he would grow as rich and mighty as the men who had held him prisoner all those years, and then he would come back and liberate his love as she had liberated him.

4: Stealth, Orienteering, Ride, Wits, Prowess
3: Lore (though illiterate), Undercover, Wilderness Tracking, Befriend
2: Agronomy, Mechanics, High Society

This situation can be played at two resolutions.

Resolution 1: RPG

Resolution 2: Super Blood Opera.

    Resolution 1: RPG

Each player controls a character in the same party.

Roll at or below your Skill to succeed in a 6-second period of PvE or PvNPC conflict.

The GM decides what happens when you fail, except:
If you fail in Combat you are Pinned and struggling for your life. You can either wait for another player to help you, or try and Break Out with a second combat test. If you fail again you roll a d6 and are killed on a 1-2, incapacitated with severe wounds on a 3-6.

You can increase a skill if you fail with it a number of times equal to your current skill level.
Skills max out at 5.
If you don’t have a skill listed, you have it at 1.

    Resolution 2: Super Blood Opera

Each player character controls a party.

Go around with each player making a single overworld action with each character they control each turn. Resolve noncombat PvE and PvNPC checks using PC skills as Resolution 1.

Resolve combat at the end of the round.

Characters have Fighting Skill of d4, d6, d8 or d10 depending on their highest Tactical Combat (2, 3, 4, or 5).

Characters who are in combat in the same place roll Wits, and a d20 on the side.
If you equal someone on Wits, the d20 is your tiebreaker. If that’s equal then you act simultaneously. Otherwise there is always an order based on Wits.
The character that goes first designates a target. He or she rolls Fighting Skill. The defender rolls Fighting Skill. If the attacker gets equal to or greater than the defender, the defender is killed.
The attacker is only killed if the defender attacks him or her on the defender’s turn (assuming the defender’s still alive).

After the first round, anyone can run away who wishes to.
Anyone who wishes to follow them: Make a competitive Wits, Prowess, Ride or Driving roll. Lower wins.  Reroll if equal.
The type of roll is Defender’s choice.
If the pursuer catches the escapee, perform a single combat round. Multiple pursuers can pursue a single target. Only one must succeed at a Drive check.

    Option: Hong Kong Heroic Bloodshed
For each player character in RPG mode or 1 character per party in Super Blood Opera:
1: Select a character in a decidedly opposing group from your own (so not Task Force + Errantry, or Occult Cell + Criminal Union; more like Task Force + Criminal Union or Anarcho-Syndicalists + either Knight group). That character is your beloved sibling. 
2: One of the Task Force high officials is your father: roll d4. 1: Prosecutor. 2: Sheriff. 3: Marshal. 4: High Bondsman. You are unsure where your loyalty will lay if push comes to shove.
3: Pick a member of your group; its leader if it has one. That member made you kill someone you loved to prove your loyalty to the cause. After your mission here is complete, you have sworn you will kill the companion that you named.
4: Select a character as per result #1; you are an undercover agent for that character’s group, and they are your contact.

    Skill Explanation
Intimidate (Ingroup): On a success, if the subject shares your specific belief system and you are an authority within the belief system, they can either comply with your demand or break their belief system.
If your Intimidate check is to cement ingroup loyalty and it succeeds, characters gain +1 to future checks to Intimidate (Ingroup) that character.

If they break their belief system, they’re Unmoored and roll on the following table to determine the orientation they turn to (if it’s their current belief, they return in time to the one who Unmoored them):
1: Ultranationalism: The character turns to their cultural group as their ultimate source of meaning and attempts to submerge him or herself in it as a movement; the character may become a vigilante acting “on behalf” of the city-state of Passwall and the Task Force, may act as a fifth column if they’re abroad, or may lend their strength to the Ultranationalist Revanchist in the Occult party if they’re of the same culture
2: Anarcho-Syndicalism: The character seeks out and finds the Anarcho-Syndicalist Cadres for service in their underground or auxiliary.
3: Occult Petition: The character seeks out something of tangible divinity and finds the Occultist and his or her Entity.
4: Nihilism (black pit): The NPC bitterly resists being co-opted unless the offer appeals to their immediate need for a psychological balm. Re-roll in a month, if Nihilism (black pit) again the character commits suicide
5: Nihilism (might makes right): The NPC becomes an illegalist anarchist and enters the city-state’s underworld, eventually rubbing elbows with the Underworld Circle party.
5: Romanticism (Aristocratic) or Penitence (Theist): 50/50 chance of Romanticism or Penitence. The character becomes a follower of a knight; 50/50 chance of joining the Errantry or the Chevauchée.
6: Antinatalism: d4 - [1] The character commits a mass shooting, [2] The character seeks out and joins up with the Occultist party based on the reputation of the Antinatalist Terrorist serving the Entity, [3] the character becomes an illegalist anarchist but does not socialize in the underworld, [4] the character joins a bureaucracy and attempts to curtail the future of the human race however they can
7: Existentialism: The character withdraws from the conflict to think; the outcome after that is up to GM
8: Theocracy: Lay theism is not enough for this character, they submerge themselves in a faith and seek to radically advance it, attempting to drown and erase other systems as a way of cementing their faith’s centrality. They become aligned with (d6): [1-2] Ultranationalism (on behalf of a Theistic State), [3-4] Penitence (Theist) with the Errantry or Chevauchée (attempting to spur them to a Theocratic orientation) 50/50 chance each, or [5-6] Occult Petition (radical supplication to Entity as deity figure)
9: Hedonism (d6 after one month): [1] Obesity / [2] VD / [3] Poverty / [4] Addiction / [5] Enervation / [6] Exhaustion with way of life (reroll)
10: Personal Pursuit: They retreat from the grand game and enter a way of life that reflects their own personal deepest interest, perhaps becoming monklike or isolated along the way, at best producing something of great value, at worst whiling away their days in the all-too-familiar, neglecting their possible contribution to the meta-situation)
11: Simplification: The character attempts to retreat into a common workaday life without considering the issues too deeply
12: Exodus: The character leaves the city-state and gets as far away from the situation as possible.

This was partly inspired by this post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Canoe Raid Target: Fortress Temple Complex

You will row to the fortress temple complex beyond the Mires of Exaltation.

You will pry their statues’ eyes off and cut out their ruby tongues.

Even in the heart of civilization there are those with eyes as savage as blue crystal, bodies cracked and graven like remote ranges of icy mountains.
Are you (choose or roll d6):

1 An amoral fisherman of the imperial periphery.
d6 Prowess die
Sea Kayak. Increase your Prowess to d12 in the Mires; treasure taken there is worth double, as you can heap it and everything around it into your own boat.

2 A relict noble of an exterminated house.
d8 Prowess die
Claims of ransom: If confronted by enemies, you can surrender, then make a Prowess check vs d8 to escape. If you fail you are subjected to the original situation and must roll normally.

3 An untouchable, nameless but not humble.
d8 Prowess die
Tanner: Roll at d12 against a sources of damage that cuts or pierces. Stop doing this after you reduce your Prowess for the first time.

4 A far foreign shipwrecked slaver who has become one with a culture of mangrove maroons.
d8 Prowess die
Starflanged bill-trident: Roll with Prowess d12 when fighting.

5 An indentured laborer driven to the coast by a pogrom.
d10 Prowess die
They left me nothing but my balls: No abilities. All Treasure is worth double.

6 A warrior monk whose order’s practices involve cultivating power rather than emulating a pacifist.
d8 Prowess die
Visions of Sacral Impunity: You may reroll each Reward check once if you so choose.

When you advance to a new stage, roll that stage’s Hazards and then its Rewards.
If you fail a Hazard but survive, you may move on unless otherwise noted.
If your Prowess is reduced below d4, you go into shock and die.

You may Retreat to the canoes at any time. When you decide to do so, roll on each preceding stage’s Hazards but not its Rewards.
If you reach the Coast, name your character and record your takings, assuming a Hazard result hasn’t informed you that something else will happen first. That will conclude the raid.

Once you begin your retreat, you cannot advance again.

The Coast

The shores crunch with skeletons as you beach your vessel, for captives have been laid in these sands. You go over the bank and into the mires.

The Mires

This is a place of opioid mosquitoes. The fortress monks have been known to lay here, their sodden skins drying under carpets of bloodsuckers, their guts devoured from beneath by gauging gharials. This is an easier self-sacrifice than immolation in leadmelt (moonshine from stone seepage), or a walk down the jadegorge.

There are underswamp conjoint-canoe dwellers here. They bring their ships together into underwater sanctuaries. They bear up weapons against you, scaleblades cut into krises from the backstripes of petrified dart frogs. They lay urchin mines of deadly poison, alembic organs and skin mantle that filters water into venomladen crystal. Outside of the trees and canoes there is no combat without all four of your limbs submerged in the mud-soil. Do not allow yourself to be cut or punctured here.

1 A vertical charge of miredwellers plunging frogblades through the bottom of your canoes. The raiders spearfish them and fight in the bloody grime, pulled down to drown or plunging splintered oars into submerged assailants. Roll your Prowess and a d6; you are trying to beat the d6. If you roll greater than or equal to the d6 result, you have succeeded. Lower, you’ve failed.
Success: You hurl a panacea strongbox into the head of an attacker, putting a deep ruby dent in his skull. Another man stabs at you from the water and you break his hand with a marlinspike, taking up his poison flesh-kris. Increase Prowess by one die size when fighting (e.g. from d8 to d10).
Fail: A man emerges from the surface of the water and strikes you with bolas of spiked pufferfish, envenoming you so that you feel and move like a seasick drunk. Reduce your Prowess by one step (e.g. from d8 to d6).

2 You are coated in opoid mosquitoes. Roll Prowess vs d4 to bring yourself to sweep off the ecstasy of pricks. If you fail, you are drained and injected reducing Prowess one step. When you come back this way, you will face this Hazard again, as part of you is inclined to let the mosquitoes land. 

3 Gauging gharials going mad from the prongs of death urchins break through the bottoms of canoes and open their mouths in shattering explosions of wood. Roll Prowess vs d6.
Success: You step on the head of a gauging gharial and manage a single brachiation that takes you to shore. You look back, gaping, and shake your head.
Failure: You take wooden shrapnel in your legs, made worse when a gauging gharial clamps down on your leg and twists. You grab a machete and consider sawing off your leg, but you plunge it into the gharial’s jaw muscle and tear your way free. Lose a level of Prowess.

4 You fight miredwellers in the branches of a watertree as urchinspikes gleam beneath. Roll Prowess vs d6.
Success: A warriors leaps at you and you drop onto your rear on the branch, grabbing his daggerstraps and falling backwards. You dump him headfirst in the urchin-laden water aikido-style while swinging beneath the branch by your legs like a gymnast, righting yourself on your rear again and standing up.
Failure: One of the fighters has a giant black axe of pure obsidian and he swings it into the thin branch on which you stand. The axe shatters but not before breaking the branch enough to dump you into the water. Lose a level of Prowess as the spikes dig into you with breathtaking depth, then roll Prowess vs d6 and repeat if you fail.

1 Sapphire-bodied parasites begin pushing their way into your flesh. Acquire as many as you can before you are burdened down or have your limbs locked together by the mutual magnetism of their mating rites, remove them by dangerous surgery when ensconced in civilization, a dying yearning treasure-laden parasite.
Decide how long you’ll remain and let them embed themselves in you.
You can take on up to 9 units of sapphire parasites.
For each, you gain 2☼ and have a 1/10 chance of dying under surgery after the raid.
You automatically take on 1.

2 A dead miredweller floats face-down and you take a witch bottle from where it’s strapped to his thigh. You drink deeply of the bottle, ignoring the hair and teeth inside. Its ichor is transformation.
1 Empowering: Go up one die size in Prowess.
2 Revelatory: Reroll any one result that comes up in the future.
3 Mutilating: Your appearance is so warped that you have a 1/10 chance of being murdered when you return to civilization. Roll after the raid if you escape.
4 All three of the above.

3 Moss in a morass of gold, unburied plunder. You make off with d4☼ in the feeding frenzy of raiders.

4 You break off crystal spines from death urchins. Gain 2☼, then decide if you’ll break off more. If you do, roll Prowess vs d6 up to 4 times. For each time, gain 2☼ and if you fail, lose a level of Prowess from envenoming. 

    If you advance with the raiders, move on to the Awnings.
    If you take your haul and depart, go back to the Coast and leave this raid.

The Awnings

Some live in the shadow of the monastery. Halfburied houses. Canvasine leaves in eternal rot. Old, communal rites.

They trade what comes from plots in the sunlight with those from abroad.

1 You corner a maiden in her home and she begins whispering a prayer to her household goddess, who turns her into a penanggalan. Her head rips itself free from her shoulders in a circular fountain of blood, dragging her guts through her empty neck, and she floats at you with tears streaming down her face, fangs growing as she opens her mouth. She will die in a few minutes.
Roll Prowess vs d8 to escape. If you fail she mauls you, sticking her fangs into you a dozen times on her way out the door and you lose a level of Prowess, numb and on fire, pouring blood. She sticks her fangs into the brains of several raiders before one manages to douse her in rotgut and set her afire, immolating the raider that was grappling with her in the process.

2 Monastic purveyance men are here garnishing the market. They come at you wielding jade godendags made from the tails of some creature.
You enter a brutal melee with them, darting in and striking at the backs of their heads. Roll Prowess vs d6. If you match or are successful, the monks are overwhelmed and can’t even escape, rolling around slowly in their blood as the raiders rain blows on them. If you fail, you are cracked across the temple with a steelstone godendag and lose a level of Prowess. You wake up concussed with a fractured skull after the surviving monks are driven off.

3 The almsvillagers breed cats with obsidian eyes, silver claws. Their scratch is madness, often death. One who survives will be made delicate and unwillingly perceptive. Their horns are made of lead and they rub them over everything and swish them in the water.
A silverclawed cat leaps into your arms, clawing the fuck out of you. Make a Prowess check against d4 to hurl it off before the claws run too deep.
Success: A raider swings a hollow kanabō and hits the spinning cat into a stream with a wap.
Fail: It rakes you all the way down as you pull it off you, filling your wounds with silver bacteria. Lose a level of Prowess, but you get to reroll your next Reward check if you choose.

4 There are giant trapdoor spiders in the autumn leaves. You step into a shallow pit and one leaps up and out at you like a giant hairy hand encompassing your vision.
Make a Prowess check vs d8.
Success: You grab its forelegs, screaming shrilly and holding the thing in place long enough for raiders to stick three or four polearms through it. 
Fail: Its fangs sink into your inner thigh, and then you are cut several times as horrified raiders rain bills and halberd through the creature. You stagger back with bizarre ichor in your wounds. Your bitten thigh swells up like a giant red raisin that soon weeps a slurry milk. Lose a level of Prowess.

1 You ransack houses and find spices, seeds, herbs of medicine worth 2d4☼.

2 You corner a merchant and do his pockets, finding gilded seashells, so fragile. Gain 3d4☼ but lose 1☼ every time you lose a level of Prowess.

3 Drovers. Riches are fed to oxen and smuggled through here. The beasts are sacrificed by the raiders, barbecuing them over mossy wood and pulling jewels out of their guts. Usually one would be left charred on the pyre with its bounty still within, but not with this group. Your cut is d8☼.

4 There are a deputation of people who live only as caravaners, world-ranging nomads. They trade with skindrinkers, the cyclorrhaphage lords and the ichthyarchy, so they have outlandish unguents and outré extracts for sale. They stand by indifferently while you plunder. If you barter, refer to the following options. If you gather a group of raiders and rush them, refer to what follows.
Pay 3☼ for a tiny mechanical dust-emitter containing fossil powder that will allow you to reroll a Reward result. If you still have this at the end of the raid, you can sell it for 2☼.
Pay 6☼ for a piece of wood-derived salt entrapping an electromagnetic array that, when crushed and gazed into, will allow you to reroll a Hazard result. If you still have this at the end of the raid, you can sell it for 4☼ (less valuable in civilization).

If you attack them they immediately throw handfuls of needles into the oncomers, which lodge themselves in the body and then grow in every direction at once, manifold stars of metal. 
Roll Prowess vs d10. If you succeed, you slide beneath the needles and begin striking the recoiling merchants as raiders writhe and scream on the muddy gravel. You slash and pommel them with the aid of the several more raiders until they are stiffening, disjointed blood-slick mannequins, and then you loot their carts.
You take 3d4☼ in silk of peridot and one viable use each of the fossil powder and wood salt. 
If you fail, darts become stars within you. Reduce your Prowess by d4 steps as you sprint away screaming. 

    If you proceed to the Temples, move to the next section.
    If you wish to depart this place, go back into the Mires and roll Hazard.

The Temples 

Lightning erupts from the stone of these mountains. The monks worship it.

They dwell in pillars in the heart of the mountain, each dressed in a crescent-lined harlequin of staircases spiraling down it like something being revealed. Bridges stretch between them like the flesh of a thing being pulled apart.

Beneath the temple is a place where stone rains and hardens, shaped in slopes and stalagmites, filling things in. The earth is unstable and fissure cracks run in complexes beneath like cities in revelation. They are inhabited and then they close.
Things grow in the steam vent with claws fixed on crevices. Their tails hang and grow sodden. The creatures are sedated via blowgun and their tails are harvested. In time they grow again.

The monks were once supported in largesse. They discovered war and overthrew their benefactors.

A pair of officials from a distant imperial philosopher claiming dominion here wait to be seen at the great entryway. A woman and a man.
She wears the madness of pure ideology, blinking relentlessly, her gaze fixing and re-fixing on the horizon every other moment as if entering a mental hyperspace and constantly pulling herself back in. She is sad, disjointed, ready to allow destruction.
His pain is constant, silent, written in his face. He ignores it. He speaks when he can. Assert, assert, assert. Wild-eyed. He cannot relent. He looks past something with great intensity.

The monks will fight at range. Their 6’ reedy arrows are the dried, hairless, stiffened legs of giant spiders. When you pull out such an arrow it will take a vast agglomeration of flesh with it, gripped and woven through by the arrowleg’s mycelium.

They have only one band of close-fighting zealots. They are retained for a single battle, in which they are expected to die. The battle is not regarded as having ended while enemies live; if one escapes, the warriors will pursue him to the ends of the earth and then commit ritual suicide when the deed is done. 
If the battle is won and all enemies taken on the field, the warriors will be gathered among the people, celebrated, and then sent off into the next world. 

The priest’s tower glows, a giant femur holding up the mountain. It is a place of power and it has never been conquered. It is dangerous even for the monks. Periodically the waters cascade into it from above, drowning and draining out those within. None can say when the waters will come; praying here is devotion and devotio. The priest cannot be drowned.

1 You fight a running battle with the monks; you fire your blowgun and they launch their thin, bony arrows at you. A raider is struck and his companion tries to pull it out, given that the arrows don’t appear to have arrowheads. Muscle is pulled out of the man’s body for feet around the wound and his bones are visibly displaced. His companion falls back screaming and pushes the wounded man over a ledge with his feet. 
Roll Prowess vs d8.
Success: Your mighty lungs send deadly dart after deadly dart into the monks. Eventually the survivors break off the attack despite the perfect cover provided by their gasifying dead companions.
Failure: You are shot in the leg with a spiderbone arrow, and you wisely break it off. However, the mycelium tightens and tightens inside your thigh. Lose one level of Prowess as you are permanently stiffened.

2 Your raiding party fights with the death zealots. They leap onto your bridge from above; some break their legs, most don’t. The latter are on you in a heartbeat. Roll Prowess vs d8. 
Success: The zealots are furious but inexperienced in actual combat. One rushes up to you, screaming, but hesitates with his spiral-bodied steel polearm held before him. You reach in, pick him up by his belt and robes, and hurl him into the depths. Eventually all follow in his wake, alive or dead.
Failure: The battle becomes scattered amongst the towers and bridges. Eventually you rejoin several raiders and press on.
If you make it out of this region, a month later one of the warriors will find you. Roll Prowess vs d8 to defeat him. Otherwise, reduce Prowess and try again until you beat him or he destroys you.

3 Water blasts out of the priest’s tower, rolling down the bridge you’re on. It washes raiders off before you. Roll Prowess vs d8 to stay on.
Success: You dive down the very center of the bridge away from the water. It carries you forwards unstoppably as it consumes you, and it deposits you with your body half over the left edge. Good enough. You inch yourself back onto the surface.
Failure: Roll a d6. On a 1, you fall into the depths and eventually land in a sea of magma so distant from the bridges that you could not perceive its light from above. On a 2-6, you land on a lower bridge, breaking at least one bone. Lower your Prowess two steps.

4 You ascend a stairwell inside a tower and as you pass a window you realize that the staircase is imperceptibly descending, lowering physically, and that you must now be quite far below where you entered despite having climbed many steps.
Roll Prowess vs d4. On a Success, you sprint up the stairs and return to the bridge where you entered. On a Failure, the stairs descend faster than you can move and you exhaust yourself, dying of thirst within a week.

1 Inside a tower you find the crop of the monastary’s aqueducts, molluscwine and shellacquer worth 3d6☼.

2 A ribbed heart. Profoundly valuable in lands ruled by pseudodraconic remnants. Salable for 11☼.

3 One of the slaughtered officials’ obsidian rain sticks is filled with pearls. Unstoppered and dispensed as payment. At great moments it is opened and swept in an arc, disgorging them all. A noisy rain stick is worth little. A silent one is not to be trusted. The official’s is worth 4d4 - 3☼.

4 The runic stoneborne secrets of a prophecy-to-be. Salable in a land where there is a war of prophets, a war waged on the basis of splendor and proof. The lesser prophets are gradually drifting from the claim and aligning with one of the great potentates; any would pay dearly for this portent of the future, which could reinvigorate his potential as the last prophet. You can sell this for 3d4☼, but there is a 1/10 chance you are assassinated and have it taken in the attempt.

    If you pursue the priest in his tower, go to the next section. Otherwise, return to the Awnings and roll Hazard.

Priest Tower

You lead a band of raiders into the darkest chamber, a place of warm falling water.

The high priest is a being older than the stones. He was once occupied by millipedes; now the millipedes have replaced the innards of their erstwhile host and they are his personality.
The ridges of his body are occupied with the millipedes, giving him armor and allowing him to sprout thousands of claw legs in a bloody rain. With these he can climb walls or even race along the ground, leaving a bloody streak if the legs are newly burst. 
He falls forward and rushes across the ground towards you when you enter. 

Roll Prowess vs d10.

If you fail, lower Prowess by one step and try again, as the priest’s body presses itself up against yours, chest to chest, arms to arms, legs to legs, and the millipedes give you a death of a thousand cuts. You will forever after carry their toxoplasmosis and be partial to millipedes. Roll again if you have at least d4 Prowess remaining.
If you succeed, you manage to cut apart the priest and send partial shells of millipedes in every direction. When you slice open the priest’s guts you find a bolt of swallowed silk electroacidizing into a nerve-laden bezoar capable of functioning as a trainable brain. Shorn of its millipedes, it will forget this purpose and be ready for a new one. This is worth 20☼ to the right cabal.

There are many statues of baroque darkness here, lightning daemons simultaneously propitiated and trapped in images. You can cut pry their eyes off and cut out their ruby tongues to gain an additional 10☼.

It is time to escape the fortress temple complex.

Return to the Awnings and roll Hazard.

Art - First Run