Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Entry: 00-027 Character Diversity in CotV

 Character Diversity in CotV
Co-Creator, Doug Bush

Sometimes it can be a challenge to think of how to create truly unique and diverse characters when playing in a Sci-Fi setting for the first time. This becomes even harder when the setting is new to the player and they are not yet familiar with its workings and nuances. Not to worry my friend, the pen and paper RPG scene is full of creative folks and to get your creative brain juices flowing let’s take a look at some ways you could take the Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot and create some diverse character concepts.

The Supporter: Not just as a professional athlete but as a Human you owe everything to the Life Corporation. This pharmaceutical group was responsible for your genetic creation and up bringing. Because of that you are an avid supporter and activist for the creation of geno-perfect humans and the necessity of them for the continued advancement of humanity. Dominating the rugged sport of Migrathon has brought you fame and fortune but now the Life Corporation needs you take even greater risks stopping truly evil forces and showing the rest of the universe the power of a geno-perfect human.

The Rebel: You’re a mistake and you know it. You despise the Life Corporation and the fact they grew you in a vat only to raise and use you as a promotional item. After competing and gaining a small measure of success in Migrathon you decide there are better uses for your prized javelin mech suit. Splintering off into hiding you plan and execute hit and run type operations against Life and any other corporation that specialize in the unnatural form of human creation.

The Thrill Seeker: There is no other feeling quite like piloting your javelin mech suite with extreme precision over unsafe terrain through the territory of 17 ton Omega level beasts during mating season! After years of dominating the Migrathon circuit the money, fame and adventure it has all become monotonous. Seeking even greater challenges you retire early and go rogue using your resources and connections to begin a new life of adventures off the grid. A life not bound by any rules or regulations but one of high risk and high reward! Banding up with a group of like minded individuals you set off in search of whatever challenges the universe has in mind for you and your trusty Javelin.  

No place to go but up: Not everyone handles fame well. After becoming addicted to “Angel Seeds” you began to stumble down a two year spiral of losing it all. After the horrible Migrathon accident that left your Javelin mech suit in rubble and you nearly dead the Life Corporation pulled all funding and support leaving you alone, broke and scared. Desperate you called in what favors you could to get a new Javelin suit but now you are forced to perform odd jobs to repay your “friends” to make ends meet.

These are just some quick ideas to get you started and hopefully you’ll share how you would run a GPH Javelin Pilot on the CotV forums!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Entry: 00-026: Playable Classes: Carapen Xenosociator and Unclassified Clandestine Investigator

Playable Classes: Carapen Xenosociator and Unclassified Clandestine Investigator
by Wedge, Co-Creator

This is the third post in a regular update series which will reveal all 10 playable Iconic Character Templates (or classes) that will be available in Chronicles of the Void. Each one includes a bit of CotV fiction to set the stage for the origins of the class, a Game Play Overview section to get an idea of how each might be played, and finally a short blurb about our Iconic CotV Character which the class is based off of.

Today we explore a couple of CotV's hybrid classes, generalists with broad skill sets who have the ability to fill several different roles on a team. I present you with the Carapen Xenosociator and the Unclassified Clandestine Investigator.

5) Carapen Xenosociator

The Carapen are an alien race recently discovered by humanity on the planet Eucro. The Carapen have taken complete ecological control over Eucro and have emerged as the dominant life form on this oxygen rich class A planet. The human explorers who made first contact found that Carapen organized into colonies. All Carapen colonies construct elaborate hives that resemble fortresses which are composed of vast labyrinths of tunnels and chambers. Carapen colonies can be further broken down into castes that all perform specialized roles. Their societies are organized eusocially around a reproductive caste supported by an array of highly specialized sterile castes that compose a single colony. What the human explorers found most notable about the Carapen however was a vast organically constructed data storage network referred to as The Spool.

The Spool is a massive data storage complex located in a secure chamber deep within each colony's hive. The Spool is composed of a multitude of tightly wound coils of a thin silk-like threads which are excreted from all Carapen. Carapen regularly create a thread of this silky substance which they tie into tiny knots and loops using specialized appendages, and then add their newest thread to the greater Spool. The knots, loops and coils of each thread form a code, a written language, that the Carapen use to report any new information they have learned in their daily activities. Much of these threads are ordinary information about crop yields, hunting success, or intruders dispatched, but all is categorized and stored in the greater Spool for processing. This is where the Librarians step in. The Librarians are a caste of Carapen whose job is to maintain the Spool, which includes repairing broken threads as well as replicating data from the master Spool to other smaller backup Spools located in various secure locations inside the colony's territory. More interestingly however is the Librarian's task of reading and interpreting all the information stored in the Spool. Without a central intelligence or hierarchy of command inside the Carapen colony, all individuals act on caste instinct, and the librarian's instinct is to read and execute the instructions stored in the Spool. If less Soldiers are adding threads to the Spool than usual, then the Librarians interpret a negative feedback loop which prompts them to tend the undeveloped larvae and nurse them under the conditions which make more Soldiers. This process of growing new caste members factors into the other remarkable thing about Carapen which is their extensive genetic engineering power.

The Spool contains all data regarding the creation and subsequent success of all genetic modifications to a colony's caste members. This incredible library of genetic data makes them masters of their own genome and able to perform amazing acts of creation without the use of any tools or laboratories. If Librarians notice a drop in Soldier thread reports, and read threads about a new airborne enemy which uses sharp claws to pry open Carapen segments to destroy their soft innards, they might conclude the need to hatch more soldiers. Furthermore they may add genetic modifications to these new soldiers allowing them to fly and/or possibly create fused thoraxes which have no segments for the enemy can gain purchase on. All of the knowledge on how to create this type of offspring though is not held by any individual, but rather is encoded in the vast array of coiled threads that compose the Spool, open for any Librarian to interpret, experiment with, and catalog the results.

The newest Carapen creation is a caste known as the Xenosociators. Created in response to first contact with Humanity, they were created largely in the image of Man, with an individualistic streak uncommon to other Carapen castes. The Xenosociators can communicate in the basic human language and have the capacity to both learn about human society and also teach humans about the Carapen. As a planet bound race, the Carapen designed the Xenosociators to assimilate the advanced concepts of space travel including advanced physics and mathematics. To this end Xenosociators gather everything, regarding no information is insignificant. They are empowered to learn and adapt to their surroundings in a way unique to most other Carapen castes. Having been granted conscious control over their own genome's expression, a Xenosociator can enter a cocoon state at will, reorganize their body to match the challenges they encounter, and emerge as a newly modified creature.

You are a Carapen Xenosociator.

Game Play Overview: Biologically morph your body to grow weapons, armor, and new abilities making you the most adaptable character in the game. Fill virtually any role in a party stepping into a new role if your team has lost a member, or just to try something different.

Iconic Character: Numi (Carapen Xenosociator) - Exceptionally curious and inquisitive Numi follows the Marshal's of Ash as half warrior half chronicler part of a sterile Xenosociator caste of the eusocial Carapens "he" explores the stars studying the societies and technologies of other races to ensure the progress of his own.

6) Unclassified Clandestine Investigator

You are the only known member of an unclassified alien race.

You've never found another individual that could be identified as your race, nor have you found any being that can give proof that they have seen any of your ancestors. You don't even know your people's name. Isolated both physically and emotionally from all beings that surround you - you are alone in the Universe.

Enigmatic and unknowable your moral compass is unpredictable having no set of common values to ground yourself with and little in common with the beings that surround you. Instead you choose to build your foundation on mathematics, causality, and logic.

Yet your weakness is also your greatest strength giving you one of a kind talents that make you both attractive and powerful. Absolute cultural detachment from all other races in the Universe makes you take nothing for granted and enhances your faculty for deductive reasoning. You've cultivated a keen eye for observation and a photographic memory allowing you to store and analyze what most would see as trivial information. In an age where there is an almost crippling reliance on full integration with the Neuro Labyrinth cyber network to access information you are able to make insightful deductions from the seemingly insignificant details that surround you in everyday life.

As a result you've employed yourself in various capacities as a private detective and a spy. You have a knack for figuring people out, understanding their motivations, and solving cryptic riddles. Perhaps it is your detachment from the greater Universal society has gives you a kind of supreme objectivity, which allows you to dispassionately analyze facts in a sophisticated way. Perhaps your desperation gives your work a passion and focus unparalleled by average people. Perhaps your unknown past holds the explanation for these gifts. Regardless, you have an instinctive ability learn new skills in a fraction of the time of other beings, and have developed a broad area of expertise.

However your formidable investigative skills have thus far failed to yield a solution to your most nagging question of all: where do you come from and what has happened to your people? The irony of being able to readily solve other people's problems while being befuddled by your own is not lost on you.

Game Play Overview: Part spy, detective, and assassin the Unclassifed Clandestine Investigator is a hybrid class combining long ranged combat options, close combat expertise, and advanced problem solving capabilities. A balanced class with a solution to any problem you encounter. Play a character that is truly unique in the Universe, inventing their own moral code, values, and traditions.

Iconic Character: Daxim (Male / Alien) - Roaming Private Detective whose keen perception and insight find solutions to his client's problems he is often cryptic and stands apart from the other Marshals while searching the Universe for his lost people.

Entry: 00-025: The Ever Evolving Osteomorph

This is an entry for one of the beasts you may run into during your adventures in the CotV Universe. It is illustrated by the creature design master David Melvin and written by the very talented Ryan Costello Jr. of 3.5 Private Sanctuary fame. It will be included in the CotV Core Rulebook with full stats but this is a preview to whet your appetite.

The Osteomorph

Dedicated xenobiologists spend their lives analyzing lethal beasts for categorization, at once looking to influence the world through greater understanding and hoping to make their mark in history. A point of contention popularly debated amongst established xenobiologists is the nature of the Osteomorph. Is it a symbiotic creature born from within another? Is it one distinct creature developing through a prolonged animated chrysalis? All acquired knowledge confirms both theories equally, exciting learned aristocrats and baffling the game hunters who just want to know how to kill the hulking beasts.

The Osteomorph, or strigilis venaticus, hatches as a baiter slug. Baby baiter slugs often crack their egg tooth at birth on the hard shell and either cannot escape and starve or cannot defend themselves and become a predator’s treat. This tubular single-muscle creature secretes a potent slime that attracts predators. Predators follow the trail expecting a fine meal. Indeed, so succulent is this secretion, it is used to flavour red meat in the finest restaurants across the Universe. However, the baiter slug has a second gland which coats its fangs in an atrophying poison. One bite and the limb of the baiter slug’s victim swells until articulation is completely lost. Combined with the baiter slug’s powerful jaw, measured to have the crushing power of a mechadozer’s compactor vice, atrophied limbs are ripped off and snacked upon. In this stage, an Osteomorph digests one hundred pounds of meat a week, mostly in the form of stolen limbs. During digestion, it manipulates any bones it has eaten into a functioning skeletal structure, locking the disconnected bones together through a series of muscular contractions and mucus filament. When there is no longer room within the Osteomorph’s body, fragments force their way through the skin. Scabbing coats any protruding bones, eventually forming an approximate skeleton that signifies the start of the second stage of the Osteomorph’s development, the venaticus erectus, sometimes called the walking chrysalis (below).

This is the Osteomorph at its most recognizable. Although its body is shaped by its diet, a walking chrysalis Osteomorph is identified by massive musculature, asymmetrical limbs in a generally humanoid composition, bone protrusions, and a barrel neck that still resembles its baiter slug origins. Despite the piecemeal construction of its skeleton, a walking chrysalis’ bones, teeth, and claws are as dense as steel and reportedly can puncture almost anything they want.

In the walking chrysalis stage, the Osteomorph is particularly defensive. Jagged bone fragments make closing with the creature difficult, and its bite is more powerful than the baiter slug stage by tenfold. The best approach is to attack it from range, however its anatomy is so complex that rounds of ammunition are wasted determining how to target its vitals. Despite the resources required to take down a walking chrysalis, few pass on killing one if the opportunity presents itself.

The walking chrysalis stage lasts for years as the Osteomorph takes in the necessary nutrients. Its diet broadens in this stage of development, able to digest minerals, particularly metal. Consumed minerals are added to its skeletal structure in much the same way bones were added during the baiter slug stage. Occasionally an Osteomorph who eats a sufficient amount of technology during the walking chrysalis stage develops a techno-organic nerve system capable of integrating basic computer systems it digests. These Techno-Osteomorphs are highly sought after by developers and researchers.

The walking chrysalis hibernates for six months, its skin hardening before falling off and giving birth to a Monarch Osteomorph. An Osteomorph in the monarch stage (in both technical and rudimentary parlance) is nearly impossible to identify. All Monarch Osteomorphs are large beasts that possess an exoskeleton and act aggressively. Otherwise, each is unique in shape and abilities depending on their diet during the first two stages of development. Their bodies range from serpentine to centipedal. Some fly, some burrow, some race across continents. One brave xenobiologist captured an entire Osteomorph hibernation on time lapse only to find the monarch come forth as a thousand draconic insects. The discovery shattered conventional knowledge and two full years were spent verifying the video’s authenticity. The video inspired endless debate on the nature of known Osteomorphic lifecycles. Some went so far as to speculate that the first two stages of the Osteomorph’s existence could be responsible for the evolution of all beasts in the known Universe. Another debate that does nothing for the hunters with an Osteomorph is their sights.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Entry: 00-024: Beta Rules

Beta Rules
by Wedge, Co-Creator

The long weekend gave us a chance to catch up on some long overdue CotV work and we are pleased to bring you our CotV Beta Rules PDF! It should be a great primer for anyone who is familiar with tabletop gaming and who is interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of one of CotV's major game systems: One Breath Combat.

We were also able to whip up a quick video to give you an idea of what a single round of the One Breath Combat looks like in action.

Feel free to send us your feedback or visit the Chronicles of the Void Forum to discuss your thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed it, upper cuts and all.