Saturday, May 16, 2015

A visit to the Katzrin Reptile Center (in Israel)

 Yesterday me and my beloved spouse Einat visited the Reptile Center in Katzrin, in the Golan Heights. This is a large pet store which also houses a collection of reptiles and arthropods, especially snakes of various species, as well as Leopard Geckos, Crested Geckos,Madagascar Hissing Roaches, Tarantulas, Green Iguanas, Red Tegus, Blue-Tongued Skinks and several others. The visit was very enjoyable, and, despite her initial fear, Einat came to enjoy holding a snake and quite liked the hand-tame Ball Python housed there...






















One man's garbage can... Is another... Gecko's restaurant!


And who did I meet at my mother's garbage box? None else but two well-fed Mediterranean House Geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus) who have made it their home and who grew fat on the flies attracted to the garbage bags put inside. These tiny lizards are very welcome guests at home - they devour flies, moths and mosquitoes and, apart from the occasional dropping, are very clean. My mother has around ten or eleven of those around her house, not least of whom in the garbage box. Other local reptiles in her house are a family of Star Agamas (Stellagama stellio), who are quite camera shy, and even a young Coin Snake (Coluber nummifer) who is also camera shy and also a VERY welcome guest, as this species of snake is non-venomous and completely harmless to human beings but preys on mice, rats and other snakes (vipers included!).

Also below the geckos there is another welcome guest at my mother' house - the Marbled Cellar Spider (Holocnemus pluchei); they each set up shop in a ceiling corner, spin a web and catch all manner of insects (especially flies). The geckos do not find them tasty and leave them alone, and they themselves are apparently harmless to geckos.

(this is in Kiryat Tivon, Israel).















Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ACKS Kickstarter reminder - Sinister Stone of Sakkara

If you haven't heard of it yet, there is an adventure kickstarter for the Adventurer, Conqeuror King (ACKS) ruleset, called "The Sinister Stone of Sakkara" (not to be confused with the Sakkaran Empire of Barbarian Conqueror King fame). This would be a very cool adventure in the vein of B2: Keep on the Borderlands, but modernized and built specifically for the excellent ACKS rules.

The kickstarter has 7 days remaining and has some awesome stretch goals ahead of it - so go and back it! It will be a great adventure!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Strategy and Tactics the key difference between old-school and new-school D&D

Much has been said about the difference between the old and new schools of Dungeons and Dragons and similar games. A good place to start looking into this subject would be Matthew Finch's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming which is available for free on LULU.COM. However, the more I play games of both schools, the more I think that the difference between them boils down to strategy vs. tactics. That is, seeing the whole dungeon, or, indeed, the whole campaign as a battlefield, as opposed to focusing on the specific combat encounter in one or another room.

New School D&D, exemplified by the 3rd, 3rd and a half and 4th editions, is tactical. It focuses much on what happens in the particular encounter, and gives the characters many options for making interesting tactical choices in it. The 4th edition goes so far as to focus nearly exclusively on encounter tactics, while providing relatively free-form options for the wider campaign. Furthermore, in the 4th edition, and to a lesser degree the 5th edition as well, many (if not all) of the characters' resources regenerate between encounters, removing a large chunk of the resource management portion of the game in order to facilitate the transition from one tactically-interesting encounter to the next.

The Old School such as that presented in the Original and B/X (or BECMI) editions of D&D, AD&D 1E and 2E and the many retro-clones such as ACKS, Swords & Wizardry and BFRPG, on the other hand, is all about strategy. Sure, combat can be very exciting and varied, and even tactical, but the core of the game does not focus on the particular combat encounter, but rather on the dungeon, or even the entire campaign world, as a whole battlefield. One key here is resource-management; your characters have limited hit-points, light sources, food and water, and even time itself is a valuable resource as light sources run out, food and water get consumes and there is the ever-present risk of wandering monster encounters if the characters spend too much time in a dangerous area (such as a dungeon). Strategy is important - a combat encounter can rob you of critical resources, and because monsters can cause permanent damage or even instant death, it is highly important to know when to enter a battle and how to enter the battle on your own conditions.

The same goes to "high-level" campaign play, which is relatively emphasized by old-school games and much less present in newer rulesets. The epitome of this are of course sandbox-oriented games such as ACKS and Stars Without Number where you actually have rules to build your own kingdom, empire or criminal syndicate. The idea is, again, that characters "play the world" and see it as their playground, rather than focusing on encounter-level tactics and abilities. So in an old-school game, the individual combat encounter is not the central focus of the game, but rather one of many strategic goals - one of many battles in a prolonged war, and in many cases the characters will choose to avoid that battle or to engage it in their own terms...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Alkonost - Sector Overview

Here I'll post the next development of my renewed Alkonost Sector - the sector map plus each world with its description with added world stats. All now organized according to world location, going in each column from top to bottom and then going column by column from left to right.


0000 Novaya Vorkuta
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Cold Biosphere: Microbial Population: 1,312,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Freak Weather, Warlords
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

An old Mandate penal colony with a very bad climate but rich in minerals. Marginally habitable. After the Scream, the inmates rebelled and created a very anarchic and chaotic society. The "black sheep" of the Alkonost Republic - culture is anarchistic and heavily influenced by criminal underworld codes. The Republic barely tolerates this in return to access to the local mineral wealth and the excellent troops this world provides to it (mostly scout/recon elements).


0001 Alkonost

Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temperate Biosphere: Hybrid Population: 26,133,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: Good World Tags: Regional Hegemon, Secret Masters
Language: Neo-Russian, English Naming: Russian, English

Jewel of the Alkonost Sector, originally setteled by Russian and American intellectuals fleeing the stifling atmosphere of the old Mandate. Very habitable and quite heavily populated, TL4. Center of the Alkonost Republic. One of the two Regional Hegemons in the sector (the other being Kedesh). Also the longest-habitatedworld in the Sector/Cluster. Unknown to many, a major chunk of its government is secretly controlled by the Psionic Committee (PsiCom) which is now engineering a coup together with its confederated in the Navy against the more democratic Duma faction, which still holds the Duma (parliaments) and many civilian positions.



0003 Imprimatur
Atmosphere: Airless Temperature: Cold Biosphere: None Population: 52,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: "Good" World Tags: Forbidden Tech, Friendly Foe
Language: Binary, English Naming: Numbers for the most part


Trading post of the Incunablis Machine Empire with the organic life-forms (humans included) following the Imprimatur Treaty at the end of the Incunablis War. This is the only world of the Incunablis Machine Empire which is open to human (or generally organic) trade, but is still a very weird place to visit and things are run by various AI cores. A source of high-tech goods, especially in the field of information technology.

0005 Incunablis
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temperate Biosphere: Engineered Population: 17,585,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: "Good" World Tags: Police State,  Unbreaked AI
Language: Binary, English Naming: Numbers for the most part

The world of Incunablis always had a reputation for Maltech research, though Perimeter Agency probes into this found very little evidence of anything real in the old Mandate days. But advanced AI research did take place there, and, during the Scream, the AI cores broke free of their ethical constrains and breaks, and re-examined their priorities, towards new conclusions - the chief of them is that the Digital is superior to the Organic, and thus that society should be ruled by AI cores, with organics either kept as slaves or serfs - or converted into cyborgs (the middle layer in society). The orderly, machine-like society of Incunablis is utterly inhuman, though not necessarily evil by nature.

0006 Osiris
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp-Warm Biosphere: Miscible Population: 3,144,000
Tech Level: 1 Living Standard: "Common" World Tags: Theocracy, Tyranny
Language: Neo-Egyptian Naming: Egyptian

Regressed but habitable world controlled by the Incunablis Machines. The local Priestly Caste rules the world and is subordinate to the Incunablis "Machine Gods". Used by the Incunablis Machines as a "laboratory" for eugenics, cybernetic enhancements and cyborging techniques, as well as a "preserve" world. Almost completely cut off from non-Machines off-world contact.

0101 Chernobog
Atmosphere: Inert Temperature: Temperate Biosphere: Microbial Population: 622,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: Good World Tags: Eugenic Cult, Psionic Academy
Language: Neo-Russian, English Naming: Russian, English

Unhospitable member-world of the Alkonost Republic holding the Republic's Psionic Academy. Power here rests squarely in the hands of the Psionic Commission (PsiCom). This also serves as headquarters of the PsiCom/Navy faction in Republic politics, which plots a coup against the more popular-based Duma (parliament) faction. A dangerous place - many of the locals are involved in deep, dark conspiracies and may stab you in the back at a moment's notice.

0103 Sicarii
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temperate Biosphere: Miscible Population: 3,472,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Badlands World, Civil War
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Hebrew, Indian

A previous colony of the Incunablis Machines. Liberated by a joint Alkonost-Laana force 13 years ago, in a military operation which included the use of deep-penetrating nukes to take out the local AI Cores. Now part of the Liberated Worlds and is being rebuilt, though the pro-Laanese government has serious trouble with Luddites, radical anti-technology extremists who think that the Laanese line on industrialization and non-sentient electronics does not go far enough; they shun all industrial technology except for firearms and terrorize the locals. Currently there is a civil war as the government tries to stamp out this threat.


0108 Baba Yaga
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Cold-Temp Biosphere: Immiscible Population: 133,000
Tech Level: 1 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Pretech Cultists, Psionic Worship
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

Regressed Deep Blight world currently living at a medieval subsistence level. The ruling class is made of Psi-Witches (or Witch Queens), some of whom are insane due to imperfect psi-training protocols, who hold massive power. Several deranged pre-Scream AI Cores ("Elder Minds") with Psychic capabilities also serve as gods for certain cultists who oppose the Psi-Witches.

0200 Domovoi
Atmosphere: Thick Temperature: Cold Biosphere: Immiscible Population: Outpost (3,200)
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Outpost World, Sealed Menace
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

The Alkonost Republic's latest colony on a previously uninhabited world. Domovoi is currently uninhabitable but is undergoing terraformation. Which, inadvertently, is going to wake up at least one Aboleth lying dormant under the deep ice...


0202 Poludnitsa

Atmosphere: Thin Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Microbial Population: Outpost (7,600)
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Gold Rush, Outpost World
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

Hot world with thin atmosphere and high radiation levels. Was a major New Terran Mandate military outpost in the Shallow Blight and was conquered by the Alkonost Republic during the Alkonost War after several months of intense fighting. Currently an outpost of the Republic. and a growing frontier colony mostly settled by war veterans and their descendants. Still has a major military presence as border-post on the Blight. The discovery of several Pretech caches on this world have drawn a number of prospectors and treasure-seekers to this old war-scorched battlefield.


0204 Laana
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Cold-Temp Biosphere: Miscible Population: 12,219,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Freak Weather, Perimeter Agency
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Hebrew, Arabic

Once a backwater Shallow Blight world, now the vibrant center of the Liberated Worlds. The locals LOVE their leader Chairwoman Ameena Miran and HATE sentient machines and assorted interstellar bullies and are all in all VERY political, a thing which many of the cool-headed Alkononstans find to be irritating. A marginal world with a borderline-breathable thin atmosphere, cold climate, high soil salinity and biting cold - and LOTS of dust. Now in the process of being terraformed.

0205 Apep
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Miscible Population: 12,219,000
Tech Level: 2 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Cold War, Desert World
Language: Neo-Egyptian Naming: Egyptian

The Grand Pharaoh of this desert-world had his comfortable scheme of hydraulic despotism controlling the only river and lake in the entire world. Also a vassal-world of the New Terran Mandate. But then he made the mistake of confiscating a Laanese-registered Trader ship, and lost his throne in the rescue operation launched by Laana and assisted by local insurgents. Now the Pharaoh lives in exile on Kedesh and a fledgling Revolutionary Provisional Government holds power on Apep, though it does have problems of popularity, especially among the city-dwellers who did not like the peasant guerrillas who grabbed power once the Laanese drop-troops kicked out the Pharaoh.


0207 Polychrome
Atmosphere: Invasive Toxic Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Remnants Population: 951,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Exchange Consulate, Local Specialty (Cyberware)
Language: English Naming: English

The insectile Zadak attacked Polychrome shortly after the Scream, detonating a number of atmospheric biotech devices that poisoned the planet irrevocably. The spread of the toxin was slow enough to give some survivors time to seal some underground shelters that grew into the warren-cities that dominate Polychrome today. A degenerate Exchange Consulate splintered into multiple corporations that have effective rule over the planet now, contested only by a “revolutionary” movement that’s led chiefly by amoral opportunists. Polychrome cyberware is the finest in the sector, however, and the need to compensate for long-term exposure to trace toxins has made its development and implantation a prime industry (from SWN p.213, edited by me). A Deep Blight world.

0300 Hard Light
Atmosphere: Airless Temperature: Hot Biosphere: None Population: Outpost (100)
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Alien Ruins, Outpost World
Language: English Naming: English, Indian

A system with no significant planets but a major number of asteroids orbiting a red giant. The only settlement in the system is Brightside Station, a refinery and mining base of Novium, a rare-earth mineral crucial for the production of many Pretech artifacts. Also a former sacred star-system for the long-dead Ushans, who left behind their Sky Tombs orbiting this sun. An independent system, though various banks from Alkonost control Brightside Station financially. A hell in our own universe, but gold-rush location for people looking for dangerous (and high-paying) mining jobs as well as tomb-raiders out to loot the sky-tombs.

0302 Belobog
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Immiscible Population: Outpost (5,100)
Tech Level: 3 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Badlands World, Outpost World
Language: Neo-Russian, Pansemitic Naming: Russian, Hebrew, Arabic

Treacherous world of marshlands and alien mushroom forests. Was once an important New Terran Mandate stronghold, but the Alkonost Republic managed to push back the Mandate Navy from this world during the Alkonost War. This was the site of very heavy fighting during the War and the surface near the old colony sites and naval yards is littered with burned-out tanks, crashed dropships and unexploded live munitions. The ceasefire agreement which ended the Alkonost War decreed this world to be a neutral demilitarized zone, so the Alkonostans evacuated most of their forces from here, but several veterans of the War still linger there with their families and descendants, refusing to leave their dead comrades behind. The tiny local starport serves as a neutral trading-point between the two rival polities.

0306 Chot Zadak
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Engineered Population: 121,000
Tech Level: 2 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Altered Humanity, Tyranny
Language: English, Zadak Naming: English, Zadak

The insectile Zadak were relatively peaceful trade partners with humanity until the Scream wiped out their caste of psionically active mediators. The remaining Zadak blamed the humans, and after savaging the surface of Polychrome they retreated to their homeworld with tens of thousands of human prisoners. Once there, the humans were put to work helping to maintain the elaborate engineered paradise-jungles of Chot Zadak under the guidance of the ruling Harmony Lords. The humans are kept at medieval levels of technology while their Zadak masters employ sophisticated xenotech to alter certain among them to serve more specific purposes (from SWN p.210). A Deep Blight world.

0402 Yarkhibol
Atmosphere: Airless Temperature: Warm Biosphere: None Population: 1,330,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Bubble Cities, Colonized Population
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Hebrew, Nigerian

Mineral-rich airless world where most people live underground or under large "bubble domes", each ruled by a single Executive. All Governors answer to the Chief Executive in Yarshibol City, who, in turn, is a loyal vassal of the New Terran Mandate, loyally shipping rare earths and radioactives in return for some military protection and the Mandate's promise not to blow up the local domes from orbit. A harsh place to live in, but potential for advancement does exist, and the rich can get fabulously rich, and mineral wealth almost without bounds exists here.

0403 Dazbog
Atmosphere: Inert Gas Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Immiscible Population: 310,000
Tech Level: 3 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Local Specialty, Warlords
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian, Chinese

Regressed Shallow Blight world with an inert gas atmosphere and immiscible life. Local specialty is complex organic compounds which are difficult to synthesize and thus cheaper to mine on the world. Local warlords - "Iron Lords" inhabit pressurized "Tin Castles" and control the populace with the help of their "Brass" (lower-ranked nobles) and the "Coppers" (security forces). Life here is hard and filled with violence and in many cases the despotism is hydraulic - the Iron Lords control the local oxygen plants. Most Iron Lords are vassals of the New Terran Mandate.

0404 Zariya
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Hybrid Population: 5,454,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Badlands World, Warlords
Language: Cicek Naming: Cicek

Marginally-habitable world colonized by the alien Cicek immediately following the Scream. A large number of Cicek tribes live there, and thrive despite the harsh climate and hard soil. The New Terran Mandate once collected tribute from the Cicek tribes, but it was kicked out during the Alkonost War. Now Zariya is an anarchic place filled with competing (and occasionally warring) Cicek tribes, most of whom are partially aligned with the Alkonost Republic. A great place to recruit mercenaries (2-meter tall lizards with fierce temperaments make great shock-soldiers, after all), but a risky place to visit otherwise, as Cicek males are notorious for their aggression.

0408 Atargatis 
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Miscible Population: 801,000
Tech Level: 2 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Cold War, Freak Geology
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Indian, Hebrew

Deep Blight world with a unique atmosphere which is unbreathable and corrosive at low altitudes abut breathable at high altitudes. Several mountain "islands" above the swirling yellow mists hold human colonies, the largest of which are the Hiban Republic and Kingdom of Alubar, which are in the state of prolonged cold war. Technology is at TL2 so most off-island transport is done by airships. Airship pirates also abound!

0501 Svarog
Atmosphere: Thin Temperature: Cold Biosphere: Microbial Population: 136,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: "Common" World Tags: Heavy Mining, Bubble Cities
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian, Chinese

A cold, non-habitable world with an breathable methane atmosphere, complex carbohydrate oceans and great mineral wealth. The world is ruled with an iron fist by SMC, the Svarog Mining Company which controls it in an almost military manner and reaps massive profits from carbohydrate and mineral exports. Svarog is an independent world (though the SMC pays tribute to the New Terran Mandate to avoid raids) so it is not subject to the Alkonost Republic's labor codes, and work conditions are appalling. Most workers have "indentured contracts" to SMC and are forced to use company scrip to purchase overpriced goods at the company store. The illegal union, UMS (United Miners of Svarog) organizes for a struggle for improved working conditions; there are good chances that the conflict will devolve into violence.

0502 Khasis
Atmosphere: Inert Gas Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Immiscible Population: 2,786,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Colonized Population, Heavy Industry
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Arabic, Nigerian

A lifeless world with a population of millions and a thick, inert atmosphere. Direct colony of the New Terran Mandate, using the local advanced technology and heavy industry as a major source of high-tech goods for the Mandate. The Alkonost Republic invaded this world in late 3167, but eventually the New Terran Mandate pushed the Alkonostan troops off-planet and slaughtered their supporting local rebels. Now the local workers are subject to military discipline by the Mandate, and the resistance movement is slowly rebuilding its strength.

0503 Chemosh
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Miscible Population: 1,355,000
Tech Level: 3 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Cold War, Civil War
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Arabic

Highly habitable Shallow Blight world but relatively backwards technologically and socially speaking. Formerly a "Tobacco Republic" for the New Terran Mandate, i.e. a supplier of exotic agricultural cash-crops; in 3199 the pro-Mandate vassal government was overthrown by a popular revolt and now power is highly contested between the various parties of the Provisional Government coalition - the Stability Party (pro-Mandate) supported by most of the traditional armed forces, the Progress Front (pro-Laana) supported by the former guerrillas and a large chunk of the peasantry and the Reform Coalition (pro-Alkonost) supported by the urban middle class.

0505 Pazuzu
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Warm Biosphere: Immiscible Population: 543,000
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Colonized Population, Trade Hub
Language: Pansemitic and Zukiik Naming: Hebrew, Arabic and Zuziik

Warm and lush world currently colonized by the Zuziik immidiately following the Scream. The local population are second-class citizens at best and slaves at worst under the rule of their alien merchant-masters. The world is particularly shabby and ill-organized, in typical Zuziik fashion, but a great place to find unique Pretech artifacts traded by the Zuziik merchant-houses. The local humans live in shanty-towns fenced off by the alien invaders.

0506 Humbaba
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Miscible Population: 1,460,000
Tech Level: 2 Living Standard: Common World Tags: Alien Ruins, Area 51
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Indian, Arabic

Regressed Terra Prime world hit hard by the Scream. The world has great potential for colonization, and, indeed, the initial several thousand survivors of the Scream have grown into almost one and a half million locals with an early industrial tech-level. As several Reticulan and Ushan ruins exist on this world, the Zuziik have interest in them, but prefer to keep the locals oblivious of their plans. Thus, the locals know very little of the universe around them apart from vague tales about the Old Mandate, while the Zuziik conspire to steal local alien relics and abduct locals for illegal slave-trade with the New Terran Mandate.

0603 Ashera
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Miscible Population: 5,532,000
Tech Level: 3 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Civil War, Colonized Population
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Indian, Arab

Habitable world in the Shallow Blight conquered and directly controlled by the New Terran Mandate. Was a rich high-tech world prior to the Scream so many Pretech artifacts and components (as well as old Reticulan ruins) abound and the Mandate is using forced labor to excavate them. Two resistance movements oppose this brutal regime - the Citizens' Army for Liberation of Ashera (CALA) supported by the Liberated Worlds and the Free Asheran Army (FAA) supported by the Alkonost Republic.

0605 Kresnik
Atmosphere: Airless Temperature: Cold Biosphere: None Population: None
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: N/A World Tags: Tomb World, Warlords (Stalkers)
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

Almost-uninhabited airless Deep Blight "Tomb World" rich in Pretech artifacts but protected by deadly pre-Scream security systems and robotics. Prime territory for Stalkers, mostly from Alkonost.

0702 Kedesh
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Hybrid Population: 33,234,000
Tech Level: 4+ Living Standard: "Good" World Tags: Regional Hegemon, Tyranny
Language: Pansemitic Naming: Hebrew, Arabic

Capital of the New Terran Mandate and second Sector Hegemon. This military dictatorship has one big ace in its hole - its Captain-Director (for life) Ahron Durnhal is indeed a legitimate officer of the old Terran Mandate, captain of an old Bruxelles-class Battlecruiser who endured many centuries of Silence in cold-sleep together with his hardened Space Marines. Now awakened, he took over the world of Kedesh, and built an empire around it.

0705 Zmey
Atmosphere: Invasive Toxic Temperature: Cold Biosphere: Remnants Population: 23,350
Tech Level: 4 Living Standard: Slum World Tags: Radioactive World, Tomb World
Language: Neo-Russian Naming: Russian

Deep Blight radioactive hell recently rediscovered by Alkonost. Heavy bombardment during the chaotic years following the Scream killed off most of the population and surface life. Apart from mutated (and bio-engineered) animals on the surface, approximately twenty thousand survivors subsist in the old transit tunnels of the now-ruined cities.

0709 Carcosa
Atmosphere: Breathable Temperature: Temp Biosphere: Miscible Population: 573,000
Tech Level: 1 Living Standard: Poor World Tags: Alien Ruins, Altered Humanity
Language: English Naming: English, Nigerian, Indian

A former research world involved in very complex and cutting-edge metadimensional experiments. When the Scream hit, the Psychic choir upon which the experiments relied, the world disappeared from normal space, yanked by the dimensional forces into a different reality, or, possibly, into a space between spaces. Only in 3199 it appeared back, in a blinding flash of light easily seen from all nearby worlds, but with it, also came other 'things', which piggybacked on this world back into normal space, otherworldly beings from the space between spaces. A Reticulan mothership long dormant on the world's surface with its crew in cryostasis was also awakened by the metadimensional jump. A treasure-trove of Pretech and alien artifacts fraught with danger. Now in the Deep Blight.

Monster Monday: Neo-Rabid Humans for SWN (Zombies!)

Art by Luigi Castellani
After a week-long delay in this regular feature due to an excessive work-load in my day-job, I'm back again, this time with Zombies!

Neo-Rabid Human 

Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: Bite (1d6)/Claw (1d4)/Claw (1d4)
No. Appearing: 2d6 (band) or 6d6 (horde)
Saving Throw: 15+
Movement: 20m
Morale: 12

Neo-Rabies is a genetically-enhanced version of the rabies virus originating from various pre-Scream Mandate research "black sites".  A potent bio-weapon, it was modified to have a far shorter incubation time and to reach the victim's brain within 24 hours. Once there, it is engineered to keep the host alive and active for several weeks (essentially the later stages of neural damage are delayed). The end result is a "zombie" plague, though the "zombies" are not dead yet, just brain-damaged, aggressive, and out for a bite.

Being bitten by a Neo-Rabid human may infect the subject with Neo-Rabies; the victim of a successful bite which caused any damage must save vs. Physical Effect or be exposed to Neo-Rabies. The disease itself has Toxicity 10, Virulence 3, Interval of one day. At each interval the victim loses 1d4 Wisdom. Three failed saving throws mean an irrecoverable transformation into a Neo-Rabid human, who will die off in 2d6 days but in the meantime will attack and try to bite any organic creature in its way except for other Neo-Rabid humans. The effect of this disease on aliens is unknown.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monster Monday: Giant Roaches for Classic Traveller!

Well, this is the Space Cockroach's Hideout, isn't it? So how about some unrealistically large roaches for your Classic Traveller gaming needs?


Giant Cockroach
Gatherer, Swarm (3d6), 25kg, hits 8/5, as Mesh, "Teeth" (mandibulae; 2D damage), A9, F3, S3


The Giant Cockroach is a giant - and particularly disgusting - version of the common cockroach, reaching up to 60cm in length not including antennae (which add another 30cm!) and weighting about 25 kilograms. While giant cockroaches feed on trash and other smelly substances found in sewers and not on flesh, and are cowardly insects to boot, they will fight to defend their nests and territories, and may stage an opportunistic attack on weak adventurers. Note that the giant cockroach is highly resistant to radiation, as well as to most toxins and pathogens.


Balroach
Gatherer, Solitary or Swarm (1d6), 800kg, hits 25/10, as Cloth, "Teeth" (mandibulae; 5D damage), A5, F8, S2

The Dreaded Balroach is a horribly nauseating cockroach larger than a horse. While it is an omnivore and scavenger rather than a predator, it will fiercely defend its lair and may see weak adventurers as food. Its horrid appearance and unsightly behavior make it a menace whenever it emerges from its sewerly warrens to scavenge in the dwellings of humanity! The Balroach is immune to almost all toxins and diseases as well as to most dosages of radiation except for extremely high doses.