Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cryptopolis by Gaslight Living Document (Undead Document?)

It is some months since the theosophical catastrophe focused on a European cult of Christian heretics and their involvement with Super Science artifacts in 185_, and the world shows no signs of recovery or return to the humdrum affairs of yesterday.

A cataclysmic tide of unexplainable and dangerous phenomena has washed over Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. No communications with America are forthcoming at this time. The citizens of London, Paris, and Rome awoke one morning some months ago to find that a pale and clinging mist had enveloped their cities, through which no missives nor telegraph communications have yet breached. Londoners are plagued by Elves, Redcaps, and Goblins, who leak out of their sewer systems and haunt their basements and attics. People who leave through the mists seeking succor and safety are simply unaccounted for and vanish - certainly, none have returned to give news.

In the small territory of B_, (near the border with Wallachia), the shining modern city of S_ stands as a exemplar of patience and fortitude. Some weeks after the events of Dr. M_ P_ and his associates (the villainous S_ and diabolical R.S. and Q.R.), the town was quietly assailed on all sides by hordes of wandering corpses. The usually taciturn townspeople awoke to find that the very land around their hometown had changed abruptly. One morning the cool mists showed marble mausoleums and headstones stretching as far as the eye could see, where before there stretched placid woodlands and idyllic scenes. Delegations into the mists returned harried and wounded, and brought with them clouds of flies and fever. At night, awful things skulk through the rooftops and sewers and the townsfolk bar their doors and windows. Evil men do terrible things during the witching hours. The constabulary are flummoxed and men leave it in droves to join the militia or attempt to move their families away.

It is through some quirk of fate that B_ stands upon a junction of rail lines and was formerly lauded as a pleasant resort town in the summertime. A convention of miners, laborers, businessmen, and speculators was making plans for the World’s Fair, to commence here in the Spring of 185_. Although those plans are likely ruined, there appears to be a surplus of heroes and charlatans, able-bodied men and women all, willing to explore and beat back the dark forces that threaten the innocents amongst which they live. Strange abilities to protect the innocent have been awakened in some, and (on the contrary) some have begun to plot and conspire with evil forces for their own gain...

Essentially a horror-themed West Marches/HexCrawl thing using Dungeon Crawl Classics and the supplement Transylvanian Adventures. Drawing a good deal of influence from Hammer Horror, Zombie Movies, and Spaghetti Westerns. I guess you might say there is some Steampunk or whatever but that's not my usual cup o' diesel fuel.

Timeline/progression for character options (by week or game session, as opened up by the narrative)
1. Humans only, funnel
2. Transylvanian Adventures characters given priority or Thief/Warrior from Core Book
3. Characters from Masque of the Red Death/Go Fer Yer Guns (humans!)
4. Dwarves or Caliban choices (by vote)
5. Halflings or leftovers from 4
6. Wizards/Elves (hopefully not the cute Tolkieny kind)
7. Weird PCs like Clockwork Men and Mutants as reality breaks down altogether (open season)

Guns rules from Transylvanian Adventures/LoTFP/wherever - I will try throw in some character options and feats from Arthaus Ravenloft and other places as upgrades to the normal ones in TA. Right now I'm using a sweet little d20 based game called Go Fer Yer Gun! (available free on RPGNow!). There're some fun classes in there and fit the feel of a frontier thing and luckily it has no Weird West issues to complicate the problems.

Base rules will be DCC with some d20 stuff taped on. Every once in a while, you can opt for the 2d6 Dungeon World resolution but then you are in charge of the description and we can all agree on whether the consequences fit.

If you don’t have TA, then I will put something together to accommodate your character – everybody will get an upgrade at the right times as needed - probably a generic “Adventurer” class. Maybe we can start with access to Thieves and Warriors, only, for those who don’t have or want TA. Pop a top hat on that thief and you are (as they say) good to go.

If you pop in from nowhere into the continuity, you start at the average level as other PCs in the game rounded down then -1

No armor to start – some may become available to characters as you adventure. We’ll use the AC and Ruin and Death rules from TA since I think they are fun.

This will essentially be a Undead-flavored early-1800s Hex Crawl/West Marches around a pre-modern Eastern European city in which everybody speaks english, with no clerics to save your ass (unless you choose to put faith in the Christian God or the Evil Demiurge, or maybe the Perfected Christ which would be a blight on your soul). Sort of Barrowmaze let loose in and around the mounds and the city and through the forest and hills. Mausoleums and interconnected dungeons below and around the city. Sewers underneath to unfathomable depths, and new/ancient dwarf-haunted metropolises in the mountains. This’ll kinda be Wild Wild West crossed with Shadowrun in which the corporations are cults into bending reality and raising the dead

I will try to do things in dollars for ease and sanity.

Will have an equipment price list up soon. Will likely use the LoTFP grindhouse equipment since I like that for ease, but CoC 1890s or GFYG can be good, or Masque of the Red Death for Ravenloft

If you choose the Thief/Warrior/Generic Adventurer option for level 1, you can take a sword-cane or a percussion cap pistol or rifle to start (your choice). Maybe as the thing wears on we can get six shooters and serious gunplay since I am seeing a shit ton of rules put out right now for guns in d20 systems.

Bayonets might be handy.

Standard starting kit:

1. Kerosene lantern & ½ pint of oil /1d3 torches
2. Flint and tinder
3. Knife
4. Bible/Cross/Holy-Symbol
5. Choose 1: brass spyglass (see that zombie close up, ) or magnifying glass (+2 to search/detect)

3d6 scramble how you will.

You can move points to your prime requisite at a 2:1 cost (not funnel characters - they get what they get)

+Scott Mathis has given me some informal leeway to add some upgrades from TA to this document for handy reference but that'll need to come later

For flavor, I think it would be really cool if you would pick some of your funnel characters/1st level/whatever and think about them in this way, in terms of terrible secrets

This is the link upon which that document was based, further it's a spin-off of some French thing (maybe +Vincent Quigley can offer a good translation of it).

Funnelers get max HP to start.

When levelling, roll 2 hit dice and pick the better of them to add to your new total.
Roll d20 init every round by character, after declaring your action (I know, I know). Adjust by Agility mod. The heart tells me this is the old way and the right way. Funnelers do it by player, and then go in Agility order. Ties determined by Agility and then by Luck - ties with PCs and NPCs/Monsters always go to the PCs - think of it as a perk.

You can opt to wait to go later in round order

I trust you on the dice.  We may be able to use down the road but I don't plan to do it up front.

I debate going until 0 hit point and then using the Ruin score as presented in TA to do the Ruin-based Luck check. I like this method and want to see how it's going to work out. If you like, you can stick with the "Turn over the body" method, but you still get a Ruin score.

(Heroic Option) You can stay up and fighting until -1/2 of your Stamina score - every time you are hit you will take critical damage and injuries at this point, so you can make it heroic and have a gruesomely destroyed corpse.

If your body cannot be recovered or otherwise disappears, we can say you can roll 2d6 on my handy Mordheim/Necromunda based OUT-OF-ACTION chart to see what happens. Maybe you fell in a hole and crawled back to town. You could get more XP this way! I do it like this to keep it pulpy but there is a possibility that you are actually dead dead.

Fear and Horror saves: As much as I dig the pulp tone, in any scary game I think fear and insanity are for the good. The Arthaus Ravenloft (and the d20 CoC) had pretty good rules for this, and the idea is that there's a DC for the Fear save and you try to make it with your Intelligence (maybe pick at creation/exposure if you want to use Int/Sta/Pers/Luck?) and if you fail to make it then you are stunned that round for starters. If you blow it by 5, then you get a minor temporary insanity. If you miss it by 10 then you can pick a minor permanent insanity or a major temporary insanity, durations influenced by circumstance, roll play, and player consent. Good role play could be worth Luck, reduction of Ruin scores, or XP or all or whatever. I'll work with you. Attacked by frog demons and go insane? Vow with megalomanic intensity to kill all frogs/Bogbugbilz whatever... That's a hook to good role-play down the road.

(more later on this)

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