Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Exaltation of Rockets

I've been toying off-and-on with a rockets-and rayguns campaign/ruleset based heavily on the original Buck Rogers strips. I started working it up as a Black Hack, but I've since switched over to Maze Rats, which has become my ruleset of choice for Play-by-Post.

I don't have a good name for it. I want something that conveys the baroque majesty of science fiction in the 20s and 30s. "Planetary Romance" is an accurate description of the genre, but needs about 20% more pulp. Pseudo-pulp magazine names seem like a good way to go, but that's such an easy well to dip into that the results can sound pretty generic.

Request for feedback #1: On this particular morning, I'm enamored of "An Exaltation of Rockets," but it may not carry the right resonances. I'd be eager to hear from you what your first impression was when you saw that as the post's title. What sort of imagery did it conjure up? What sort of world does it belong to?

The premise of the world is that War of the Worlds-style tripods invaded Earth in 1930, and have pretty well mastered it for 500 years. Most humans who have escaped mind-controlled slavery live neolithic existences in the wilderness, but there are a few hidden communities where human culture and science have progressed. If they can shake off the yoke of Tripod domination, there is a whole solar system out there teeming with life and adventure.

Characters can start as:
Wild Humans
Clave Humans (the folks with science—that is to say, ray guns)
Time-lost Human (like Buck Rogers)
Inventor
Atlantean
Selenite (moon-frogs)
Martian (tiger folk)
Robot

SCIENCE!
Inventors (and, to a lesser extent, Robots) have access to Technological Wonders.

Technological Wonders are determined by rolling up a name and figuring out what it does, just like spells in Maze Rats. But, unlike spells, they are persistent, and can be used more than once.

At the moment, I'm playing with the idea of using a Reliability Die (read: Ammo Die or Usage Die). Technological Wonders begin at d4. The dR degrades on a result of 1 or 2. When you run out of dice, the item breaks or runs out of a necessary resource, and won't work again until sufficient downtime is devoted to fixing it. An Inventor can, upon Leveling up, either gain a new Technological Wonder or upgrade the dR of an existing Wonder.

To figure out your Technological Wonder, roll a d6 twice for A, B, C, and D. Describe what you think it does. The GM gets final say on what it actually does.


Technological Wonder Table


A
B
C
D
1
1
Aethero-
Active
Abjuration
Baton
1
2
Arcano-
Biological
Adaptation
Blade
1
3
Astro-
Charged
Amplification
Bubble
1
4
Atomo-
Chemical
Animation
Capsule
1
5
Aural-
Elemental
Articulation
Cloak
1
6
Chrono-
Energetic
Communication
Coil
2
1
Cosmo-
Graphic
Compression
Cube
2
2
Destructo-
Gravitational
Compulsion
Disk
2
3
Dyno-
Harmonic
Conjuration
Engine
2
4
Electro-
Illusory
Detection
Field
2
5
Excello-
Incorporeal
Disruption
Gas
2
6
Geo-
Ionic
Distortion
Harness
3
1
Gyro-
Laser
Division
Pen
3
2
Holo-
Lightning
Duplication
Injector
3
3
Hyper-
Magma
Elevation
Key
3
4
Ideo-
Magnetic
Evocation
Leaf
3
5
Kineto-
Matter
Examination
Lens
3
6
Macro-
Mental
Expansion
Medallion
4
1
Micro-
Mineral
Extraction
Orb
4
2
Multi-
Mnemonic
Fusion
Pack
4
3
Nega-
Molecular
Incineration
Particle
4
4
Neuro-
Morphological
Incision
Paste
4
5
Nucleo-
Penumbral
Inversion
Platform
4
6
Null
Phase
Manipulation
Prism
5
1
Omni-
Phenomenal
Multiplication
Projector
5
2
Para-
Physical
Negation
Ray
5
3
Proto-
Plasma
Petrification
Receiver
5
4
Psycho-
Polarized
Prediction
Ring
5
5
Radio-
Probabilistic
Preservation
Rover
5
6
Spatio-
Psionic
Protection
Scope
6
1
Tele-
Sonic
Reflection
Serum
6
2
Thermo-
Stasis
Regeneration
Spray
6
3
Turbo-
-ocular
Repulsion
Visor
6
4
Veloci-
Void
Revelation
Wand
6
5
Vibro-
Vortex
Synthesis
Web
6
6
Vita-
Warp
Transmission
Wheel

Some examples:
Telebiological Amplification Web. Lets you link a number of willing subjects so that they can pool their health. So, everyone gets to shunt a hit point or two over to buff a fellow in need.

Protowarp Preservation Prism. An object or person placed inside the prism is put in a form of suspended animation by being warped out of phase with the passage of time.

Neuromineral Evocation Visor. Rock-based psychometry. Lets you tap into mineral "memories."

Request for feedback #2: Would you try rolling up a few devices and see if they coalesce into usable ideas? I know this table can return interesting results, but, with over a million possible results, I don't know how likely it is to come up with clunkers. Or if this is just attuned to stuff that inspires ideas for me, and looks like garbage to anyone else.

Thanks!