Thursday, March 31, 2011

Entry: 00-009: Character Creation

Chronicles of the Void: Character Creation

by Wedge, Co-Creator

The best way we can show you the Universe that we've created is through the eyes of its characters; you can't tell compelling stories without them. That is why CotV's character generation system is closely tied to our iconic characters, rather than loose impersonal class templates. The CotV Core Rulebook will contain original fiction featuring our iconic characters to introduce you to the CotV universe, along with detailed bios and fantastic artwork to bring it to life.

CotV will support two main systems for iconic character creation: Quick Play and Advanced Play.

In Quick Play character creation is streamlined allowing you to start playing within an hour of cracking open the book by using one of our iconic character templates. You can finally invite that non-gamer spouse or friend over to try tabletop role play for the first time without worry that they will be overwhelmed by their lack of game system knowledge.

In Advanced Play character creation you take our iconic character templates and craft you own character in as much detail as you desire. This allows seasoned role players to excise their creative talents and provides the depth of customization they crave.

Both approaches allow gamers of all experience and skill levels to choose the character creation method that works best for them with the goal of letting everyone play together and maintaining a level playing field at the same time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Entry: 00-008: CotV Fiction - The Deadliest Weapon

The Deadliest Weapon

by Wedge, Co-Creator

Daxim walked to the edge of the crater.

The sidewalk in front of him abruptly buckled at an extreme angle and slanted down like a giant bowl scooped out of the very heart of the sprawling city. The pit was over a mile in diameter with everything inside pressed smooth as glass. Even the structures around the site were buckled, windowless, and stripped of paint. Everything within reach had been pulled into the center of the crater to a tiny point invisible from Daxim's vantage.

"Return to your home sir, this area isn't safe," said a commanding voice behind him.

Daxim inclined his head to find a stocky security officer with a no-nonsense posture. He meet the man's withering stare.

"I'm no threat to you officer," replied Daxim simply.

"Threat?" a forced chuckle rumbled through the officer, "we are standing at ground zero and you think I'm going to be threatened by a chump in a trench coat?"

The security officer strutted up to where Daxim stood and examined him with a squinted suspicious eye. Physically Daxim possessed qualities that most humans identify as familiar but upon closer inspection there were things that didn't seem right at all. The corneas of his eyes were oddly shaped, he had an extra thumb on each hand, and there were bumps in his skin where there shouldn't have been. "I don't believe I've ever met your kind before, let’s see some ID."

Daxim held out his hand to the biometric sensor on the Officer's handheld device. A scrawl of text began to emerge on the screen and the Officer scanned it with practiced bluster.

"Species Unknown, just what exactly are you?" asked the Officer.

"I've often asked myself that very question," said Daxim.

Unsatisfied the Officer continued his inquiry "Private Investigator," he practically spit the words out and put on his least sincere smile "by all means then, feel free to take a look around, Tactical Black Holes leave all sorts of useful forensic evidence when they compact every atom in a one mile radius into an area smaller than a pinhead."

"It's not about what was here that is important, its about what is not here," said Daxim.

"What isn't here, aside from my patience, is the cities central defense system which was at the epicenter of the catastrophe even though it was buried over a quarter of a mile underground. Now we are vulnerable to SERK raids."

"This form of destruction is not in a SERK's character, it compromises their third directive."

"Don't talk to me about the SERK, we've had had five raids here in the last year alone, and have managed to hold them off, but now this," the Officer gestured to the crater.

"I think you are missing the point entirely, the SERK are not directly responsible for this. Furthermore whomever did this was not targeting the planetary shield, although you were surely meant to think so."

The Officer's attention was interrupted by a group of children throwing stones into the crater "I'm too busy to listen to everyone that’s got a theory and toy badge, do us both a favor and don't get yourself killed digging through the rubble," and with that the Officer stomped away.

Daxim fished around in his pocket and pulled out a inch long crystal that appeared to be filled with milky white clouds. He held the crystal up to the sun, but its hue did not change. Shaking his head slightly Daxim enabled his transmitter "Red, have the others reported in yet?"

Two light tones emanated from the transmitter indicating that an encrypted link to the starship Overwatch's AI had been established. "Yes Sir, Alpha squad is still searching all spaceports in the city, and Beta squad is maintaining a net around the planet, but there is still no sign of the target: Mael Aramsis," answered Red.

"That’s because he isn’t leaving, put me through to Hock," a moment passed and the transmitter toned twice again. "Hock, change of plans."

"Dax I am not in the mood for one of your pep talks, this spaceport is mobbed with people trying to get off this rock its going to be impossible to find him in this mess."

"He is in the city, in fact he is probably closing in on your team right now, pull out of there and lets regroup on my position," said Daxim.

"What are you talking about, we've been chasing this guy for weeks, and now we're finally close enough to strike so he sets off the deadliest weapon known to mankind in the middle of the city just to throw us off his trail. After all that you wanna go ahead and let him slip away?"

"He didn't set off the Tactical Black Hole to help him escape, he did it to prevent us from seeing what he is about to do next. Black Holes are not just a deadly bomb, they also disrupt the space time in this dimension, which means we are flying blind. The Dreamer can no longer help us catch him, look at your crystal."

There was a pause and Hock's voice came back less sure than before, "So the strange little crystal is cloudy, big deal. The Dreamer is completely untraceable, how could he possibly know about her?"

"In this dimension yes, but this confirms something I've feared about for a long time."

"I don't know where you are going with this Dax, but I'm sure I'm gonna hate it."

"If The Dreamer can see everything we do and what we will likely do in the future, then whose to say someone else can't do the same thing?"

"But that would mean Aramsis cut off his lifeline too, plus he is stuck planet side since the government has declared a state of emergency fearing SERK attack, nobody is getting on or off this planet, it doesn't add up."

"Hock, do you know what the deadliest weapon really is?"

"Can't you ever talk straight? Get to the point!"

"I'm saying Mael Aramsis came here knowing we were closing in on him, he detonated the one explosive that disrupts space time cutting us off from our ability to track his movements, and he has got the SERK harassing the system so we can't leave. It was a setup from the start, and now he is hunting us. What I'm trying to tell you Hock is that the deadliest weapon in the Universe is not a bomb; its the mind."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SERK Tracker

Illustration by Reza Ilyasa

If they aren't stabbing you they are shooting you! There is no winning with these guys!

- Doug, Co-Creator

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Entry: 00-007: CotV Fiction - The Dreamer

The Dreamer

by Wedge, Co-Creator

My name is Solene Pythia and I'm watching my own birth.

It is very clear to me right now.

The bored nurse who surreptitiously checks her data pad for any messages as my mother goes under the anesthesia.

The steady beep of the machinery in the room.

My mother's flashes of guilt between the contractions that she tries to conceal as pain.

I know now that at the this time, she truly didn't know if I was the daughter of the man who is squeezing her left hand and whispering sweet nothings into her ear. The man who I would later call "Dad".

It's very clear to me now, that tiny variations in the sequence of events that are about to happen can so radically change the course of my life that I still break out in a cold sweat just watching it. My muscles tense, and I hold my breath just as the Doctor pulls the tiny 6lb 7oz version of myself wailing from my mother's womb and raises me to her arms. I see the moment of decision at the point just between my mother's eyes, as she resolves to lock the secret of my conception deep in a vault within her mind never to be uttered to another soul, and the smile that erupts from her eyes from the release of this burden of decision is glorious.

I freeze this moment, and take the time to examine every detail... you see she does not make the same decision every time I re-watch this scene.

In the version of this scene that I watched immediately before this one, my mother decided to wait until she and my Dad were alone in the recovery room to tell my Dad that I was not his daughter and that there had been another man from her office who had shared a night with her some 9 months ago. My Dad and my Mom argue in this version, and I grow up calling a man named Sten "Pappa" instead of the "Dad" that I know in my heart to be true...
There are other versions of this scene I have seen that are misty and illusive which have me come out as a boy, or as fraternal twins. Each of those Solene 's (or Samuels in the case of the boy) grow up to lead entirely separate lives, never once intersecting with the life that is currently mine.

So I keep coming back to this tread in time, examining the slight fluctuations in this scene, and comparing them to the others. I see that in this version, the A/C kicks on 2.5 seconds before the baby me is handed to my mother, while in the other version it kicks on 1.35 seconds after. In the previous scene the nurse dropped her data pad and the clatter of it on the hospital floor seemed to cause the doctor to hand the baby me to my mother 1 second later than in this version, because he spared time to give the nurse a disapproving glare. Could one of these seemingly irrelevant details be the one that leads to my mother's silence rather than her admission? The question burns in the part of my mind that still clings to my humanity, to the life I once knew.
My soul is weary, but spending time re-watching this scene renews me. It hardens my resolve to do what must be done.

I take a step back from this thread of time and watch it shrink away into the mass of vibrating continuums of probability that surround my consciousness. I move across the room to the monolithic crystal that appears to have grown through the very floor of the room, and I lay my hands upon it. I see images moving through the crystal and I know that they must be sleeping. I refocus my efforts, and quest out for my disciples, those that I've watched for so long now, those that have the spark which I have selected them for from among countless sentient beings.

I find them all safe aboard The Overwatch traveling through outer space. Its early in the morning ship time, and they are all asleep, except the ever vigilant Dust. I begin to spin the dream now. Weaving the threads of probabilities around me and brushing them against the receptive subconscious's of my disciples. I try again to paint the picture for them of their future. Of one possible future which they can work together to prevent. But these tools are so imprecise, and my only method of communication is repeated innuendo, riddle, and allusion. I hope that they can tease the truth out of these messages in time and reach Montogo before Vice Mael Spaeti releases the SERK on the Assembly peacekeeping troops, but their ultimate fate is out of my hands, all I can do is watch... and dream.

My name is Solene Pythia, but my disciples call me The Dreamer, for that is all I can do in this lonely dimension outside of time. I am trapped here futilely manning a lighthouse assaulted on all sides by a sea of probabilities while I try desperately to signal to those who will open their minds to see... that there are rocks ahead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Entry: 00-006: Coordination

by Doug, Co-Creator

So now with an idea of the basic attributes used in CotV let’s look at one of the more unique features of One Breath Combat (OBC); the Coordination score. Turns in many RPGs act like a common board game where “I go, you go, that dude next to you goes, then that other guys goes, then that chick goes and now I go again”. While this is great because each player gets an “equal” amount of the spotlight it can make it challenging to have the quick nimble elf and full plate wearing Paladin fight side by side and feel like one is very quick but fragile while the other is slow and a tank.

In CotV we wanted to have characters as diverse as primal jungle aliens fighting alongside Mech suits so we introduced a game mechanic called Coordination. A characters coordination score tells the player how many times that character can act in 1 turn. Each turn is divided into 6 rounds. Larger or more heavily armored characters have lower coordination scores and therefore activate on fewer rounds. Quick, lightly armored characters have higher coordination scores and therefore activate on several rounds. However heavily armored characters tend to have greater vitality and do more damage. This allows us to have battles that are like the classic struggle between Chun-Li and Zangief. Chun can evade all day while chipping away little by little but once Zangief gets a hold of you its game over!

There are several combat mechanics to prevent a player with a low coordination score from just sitting around waiting for their turn. Things like, counter attacks, defensive combat rolls and unknown initiative keep all the players involved even when they are not activating.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Entry: 00-005: Attributes

by Doug, Co-Creator

Attributes are common in almost all RPGs but what they are and how they are used can vary greatly depending on game system and setting. In CotV we wanted to insure that the characters attributes were appropriate for a Sci-Fi setting and would allow the players enough options to complete any task they wished. With this in mind we chose Strength (STR), Agility (AGL), Discipline (DIS), Tech (Tech), Awareness (AWR), Persuasion (PER), and Manipulation (MAN). Let’s look at what each of these attributes represent.

STR is a character’s raw strength and endurance. STR is used for skills such as lifting heavy objects, climbing, and resisting the effects of toxins. Sometimes it’s used to lift a refrigerator if you are part man part machine.

AGL is a character’s ability to control the movement of their body. AGL is used for skills such as jumping from one roof to another, moving silently, and mimicking another person’s body movement.

DIS is a representation of a character’s mental discipline. DIS is used for skills such as recalling information without access to a data pad, taking information and applying it, and staying awake on watch.

Tech is a character’s ability to use, understand and implement technology. Tech is used for skills such as cracking codes, programming computers and robots, and repairing broken technology.

AWR is a character’s ability to accurately and quickly perceive their surroundings. AWR is used to spot things of interest, look for clues, and watching for danger.

PER is a character’s ability to influence another character’s opinion through diplomacy, charisma and charm. PER is used for bartering an agreement, convincing someone to do something you would like them to do, and give others an overall positive impression of you.

MAN is a character’s ability to influence another character’s opinion through intimidation, manipulation, and cunning. MAN is used for striking deals, convincing someone to do something you would like them to do, and give others an overall fearful impression of you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Entry: 00-004: CotV Fiction - SERK

Illustration by Reza Ilyasa
Story by Wedge, Co-Creator

“Need a refill Private?”

“No thanks Captain, I plan on sleeping for a day straight when we get back to base.”

“Humph” was all the Captain said as he released the restraints on his seat and pushed off floating down the narrow isle separating the two pilot’s chairs towards the tiny kitchenette in the back of the patrol craft.

An amber homing light flashed on the console and the Private lazily waved his hand over it.
“Private Marsen on patrol ship 02-144 reporting, sweep of route 17 complete with no unusual activity recorded. Requesting permission to dock.”

Silence answered the Private and after a few moments the Amber light changed to a solid green.

“Sierra won the Trosep Migrathon Invitational” said the Captain “my link just updated, has command hailed us yet?” The Captain returned to his seat with a fresh bulb of warm caffeine in his hand.

“The docking beacon is engaged but they didn’t respond to my hail” replied the Private “and don’t get me started on Sierra, no way he would have won if Kinaso was still in the game.”

The command ship was now visible to the naked eye through the cockpit window growing larger with each passing second.

“Ha! Sierra has three times more league victories than Kinaso ever did, she was a fluke.”

“And how many of those wins did he make while Kinaso was still playing?”

“You’ve gotta look at the bigger picture Private, its all about lifetime achievement not a couple years of freakish success. That’s why you are still a Private, no concept of the bigger picture.”

The command ship filled the entire front view port but instead of the normal sleek blue metal hull the ships carcass was pockmarked with burns and cratered by massive impacts. Meter after meter of cable flapped in the windless vacuum trailing from the disemboweled command ship signifying lethal decompressions. Then it began to move. No it writhed, like the entire hull was covered with bees, but instead of bees there were thousands of robots crawling over the surface of the ship.


Hands fumbling over the patrol ship’s controls the Private searched for the emergency override of the docking beacon. Panicking he pushed the throttle to maximum accelerating their approach to certain death.

“What the hell are you doing?” The Captain snapped out of his temporary stupor, unlocked the manual override, and disengaged the auto pilot. Jerking the control stick back hard the ship twisted away from its approach.

“Make a heading for planet Orvan Prime, we’ve got to warn them the SERK are in syste-” a deafening pop rattled through the patrol craft and shrapnel blasted through the open cockpit door skewering the Captain with a meter long section of steel that embedded itself deep in the control console. Atmosphere blew out of the rupture in the patrol ship just as the Private flipped the catch to seal his pressure suit. Red lights flashed from every control for only a moment before the ship’s power sputtered and died. The now ravaged patrol ship somersaulted through space and all the helpless Private could do was watch. As his crippled craft tumbled, he caught another glimpse of the gutted command ship, and the silhouette of another massive vessel that was outlined against the field of stars – a SERK Warfactory.

With each revolution the SERK Warfactory grew larger, and soon the Private felt unnatural vibrations pulsing through the chair he was strapped to. He imagined hundreds of the tiny scavenging SERK latching onto his ship, tearing it apart bit by bit, and feeding each piece back into the massive furnace at the heart of the Warfactory where it would churn out more and more of the same robots… forever.

The Private unlatched the weapons compartment near his foot which had somehow stayed shut during the entire ordeal and drew the plasma pistol depressing its activation nob. A SERK scavenger crawled across the cockpit’s window and its glowing yellow eye seemed to register the Private’s presence because it immediately ejected a six inch serrated saw which it proceeded to bore into the view port straight in front of the Private’s head. The pistol blinked twice indicating it was charged and the Private unleashed a volley on the scavenger shattering the portal and sending it tumbling off into space.

A terrible vibration coursed through his seat and the Private twisted his head back toward the cockpit’s door to see the hulking frame of a SERK drop into the ship after having torn through the damaged ceiling. This one was different from the smaller scavengers he had seen, it was a full head taller than the Private himself and in each hand it carried cruel scythe like blades. The two locked eyes for a fraction of a second before the Private begin firing his sidearm at the avatar of his death. The energy skittered over the SERK’s reinforced frame with pathetically little effect and the robot continued forward. Desperately the Private searched the cockpit for some other defense but before he could change tactics the SERK launched towards him, the scythes arched down, and the cold black void swallowed his last words…

Entry: 00-003: Why’d you do that?

Why'd you do that?
by Doug, Co-Creator

So let talk about some of the underlining themes in the spine of CotV. When setting out to create the next big, all original, Sci-Fi, pen and paper RPG we had a couple major mechanical goals to achieve.

First, it was important that CotV felt like a Sci-Fi game and not just a traditional fantasy RPG stuck in space. A couple of ways we have achieved this are through the use of space ship combat and a strong focus on innovating the way ranged combat works in a RPG.

Second, we took a long hard look at what we liked and didn’t like about most RPGs. CotV is not just another d20 knock off. There are plenty of killer d20 games for you to play if you want, but CotV needed to be something different. We constantly strive for balance between depth in the rules and not over complicating the system to the point players have to reference several different books just to get through a single encounter. With this in mind the One Breath Combat system (OBC) is designed to work with all manner of groups whether you are looking to use battle maps and minis or kick it old school and use just the awesome power of your imagination.

Entry: 00-002: CotV Fiction - The Spirit Crusher

The Spirit Crusher

by Wedge, Co-Creator

“Hock, taking all known variables into account I estimate that you will be dead in the next 90 seconds,” said a chromatic monotone voice inside of Hock’s left inner ear.

“At least I can take comfort knowing that you will soon be haunting someone else Spirit Crusher,” replied Hock sub-vocally.

A cold tingling radiated through Hock’s fingers and toes letting him know that the second adrenal stim was beginning to wear off… either that or an errant round may have penetrated his armor and he was slowly bleeding out. Either way, the Spirit Crusher’s predictions were infuriatingly accurate which meant there was nothing left to do but roll the dice.

Hock snapped off the scope, brought up the holographic range finder, and toggled the rifle’s firing mechanism to full-auto – there was only be enough power left for one shot at this. Ejecting the tactical knife from his gauntlet Hock ran the blade over his exposed knuckle drawing a long line of blood across the blade. Good old fashioned pain works just as good as any stim. Riding the surge of awareness Hock tossed the blade over his left shoulder rolling out from behind the wrecked land rover to his right.

Immediate interception fire turned the bloody tactical knife to slag while Hock rolled to his knee and opened fire on the two SERK Trackers closing in on his position. The white hot plasma raked through each one in turn before their DNA targeting systems could change to Hock’s position and each one fell just as the familiar voice intoned “Ammunition Expended.”

A grin cracked the side of Hock’s face and he began to stand up when a dark shadow fell over his vision.

Instinctively he brought his rifle up into a two handed parry just in time to catch the double scythe blades of the SERK Butcher which bit deep into his battered weapon. Collapsing under the tremendous weight of the robot Hock twisted his body backwards sending the bulk of his attacker over his head. Wrenching the rifle vertical Hock came down on top of the SERK putting all of his weight into the butt of the weapon which landed square in the side of the robot’s head. Metal crumpled and sparks flew from the crater in the robots skull sending spasms through its body. Hock hammered the would-be assailant 8 or 10 more times with the rifle just for good measure and collapsed.

“Metal fatigue” said the metallic voice, “that was unexpected.”

“I guess this hunk of metal had been recycled one too many times,” said Hock.

“I expect you to fix the damage to my frame, I’m not designed to be wielded like a club”

“Try not to sound too broken up about me making it through this one Spirit Crusher.”

“Why do you persist in calling me that name?”

I wonder thought Hock.

Entry: 00-001: An introduction to the spine.

An Introduction to the Spine

by Doug, Co-Creator

Welcome to the first ever Chronicles of the Void (CotV) blog post! We will be using this space to keep you up dated with all things CotV. For starters let’s talk about the back bone of the game, the crunch, the rules or as we like to call it, the spine.

The spine of CotV consist of 3 major parts -
  • VAP (Vehicle Assault and Pursuit)
  • OBC (One Breath Combat)
  • Everything else.
The VAP is used for epic space battles where each player will have the ability to purchase and upgrade their own star fighters. The OBC is for more traditional ground combat and involves many innovations on the traditional RPG approach to help keep things quick and dynamic. Everything else is…everything else! Like any good RPG you’ll have the freedom to completely control your character and how they interact with their environment and to do this we offer simple solutions focused less on rules knowledge and more on role playing.

That’s all for now, tune in next week for a look at the principle ideas and goals behind the spine!