Friday, January 6, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Things Change

In the last session that characters had a strange adventure in a collapsing aether realm that may well have been a heaven, a heaven for gods unknown during the Fall. Their journey tested them and in then end gave them a bit of nascent power. Will that power grow within them upon their return to the Afterworld, or will the darkness there snuff it out?

Our heroes have returned to the world. They are more than they were but have also been scoured by their journey and have sacrificed blood and possessions to return. They now stand in the crater of that fallen object, an aether realm that has finally degraded into nothingness.
  • The first thing that will happen is they will realize they are not alone. 
    • Actually the first thing that will happen is they will have to deal with the dawn's light that threatens the life of one of their own...
    • ... and also they will find they are not alone.
    • A large figure, rough in appearance exited the object with them, or perhaps was at the crater site when they exited. This savage seeming ork has a ruddy red glow about her to their eyes. What will they do?
      • Raehcha claims to have had a vision of a fallen star that led her to this place shortly after the impact. Her description of the realm within the object is similar to what the PCs saw but neither she nor they can explain why they did not see each other. 
      • Raehcha (level 4, red aura, divine symbol appears as a drop of red liquid, health 18) Raehcha, is a nascent god of health and a possible ally of the group. 
I'm curious how this will play out as the Gods of the Fall orks & goblins are described as being fairly savage. We'll see how the PCs deal with the situation and if they may an ally and potential pantheon member from of this goddess of the savage races. 

Of course hours have passed and the sun is rising. With the godstorm that protected the impact site gone the group may make their way out of the crater easily enough. There are still many cyphers to be looted (and in daylight its easier to do so, 10 minutes of searching will yield 2 cyphers with a level 2 perception/searching test. 

However with daylight have also come more of the curious, including many who would not have made the journey at night. This includes two groups that the PCs are already on somewhat familiar terms with: The Reconciliation and the Adherents.

  • The Adherent preacher from the night before (Jaekob, level 2) is leading a group of the faithful (mostly level 1 to 3) to the impact site as they consider this a holy event and a holy site. They arrived just before dawn and were witness to the godstorm's collapse. When they see the PCs climb out of the crater they will react accordingly. 
  • The Reconciliation arrived more recently, with a full Knight in tow. Two of the junior knights the group had humiliated the night before had followed the group here and then reported back after seeing the PCs enter the godstorm. They returned with their senior knight, a sneering, woman named Keetha, to secure the area for the Reconciliation and (they hoped) get some revenge on the PCs.
  • The two groups are on the verge of fisticuffs. Keetha has little patience for the Adherents and outside of the city limits of Somorrah she is not bound by the city's law. She intends this to be a massacre.
  • Though the Adherents outnumber the Reconciliators by 5 to 1 they are not combat trained and many are not armed with more than a dagger or walking stick. If need be one of the Adherents will out themselves as a bibliomancer (possible GM Intrusion during combat if it comes to that), but the odds are by far in favor of Keetha and her men.
I'm not planning this beyond the set up. If the PCs can manage a diplomatic solution I'll let it happen, but Keetha does want blood, and 3 of her men want retribution for the humiliation they feel they suffered at the hands of the PCs. Jaekob and his followers don't seek violence but they will not back down from their beliefs which will now include that the PCs (and possibly Raehcha) are (at the least) chosen champions of the old gods.

For this session I decided not to plan beyond these two encounters as there is a strong chance that the 2nd will lead to a combat. Keetha is a full level 7 Reconciliator and while she will not fight to the point of death or foolishness, the odds are in favor of PCs being able to route her men and forcing her to retreat (which would allow a recurring villain to be born). 

If there's time I'll allow the PCs to continue RP with the Adherents and/or return to Somorrah to regroup and refit (e.g. shopping), if not this can happen off screen between this session and the next.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Inspirational - Person of Interest

This is a trial of a new column that may become a semi-regular feature. We'll see how it goes. If you want to see more posts like this please comment, if not, do nothing and I'll take the hint.

So I stopped paying for (live) TV back in 2015. I was traveling a lot for work at the time and paying for cable when I wouldn't be around much to watch seemed silly. It proved an easy life change and I never went back. I do still pay for Netflix, and I have Amazon Prime, so when I heard that the last season of Person of Interest was on Netflix I decided to finish the series by rewatching it from the get-go.

Turns out Person of Interest (POI) is cyberpunk as hell and I hadn't noticed till now.

Oh, and by the by, there'll be spoilers within....

A note, while I think POI is cyberpunk I don't think it represents what most gamers picture as cyberpunk because it is decidedly NOT Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, or Interface Zero. Granted it's not your typical trope laden cyberpunk in the way that you might expect.

It's its own thing and that's fine. Actually it's great because it makes POI different and, in a way, new.

The core premise of the show is different. It's less about big corporations and more about big brother. It's about artificial intelligence, privacy, how technology is changing the way that we live. It's also about power in many forms and almost all of the sub-stories involve power struggles.

Characters & Archetypes
  • Harold Finch & Root - Hackers - These character's can navigate the digital world in ways that allow them access to information hidden from most of us, and information is power. Finch is almost pure hacker, whereas Root is more of a "combat hacker" or "practical hacker" but both are very capable in their own ways.
  • John Reese & Sameen Shaw - Combat & Covert Ops Specialists - I'd argue that Reese is the prototype of a Street Samurai, and Shaw is more of an Operative but regardless these characters are highly trained in intelligence gathering, covert surveillance, and combat in all forms. Both are more than capable of taking on multiple assailants when needed, though even they can't be more than one place at a time.
  • Lionel Fusco & Joss Carter - Investigators - These two have the connections to resources that can't be hacked and/or cannot be obtained via less than legal means. It pays to have connections on the honest side of the street. Both Carter and Fusco also know their way around a firearm which helps to provide backup for the specialists or allow the team to spread resources farther. 
  • Zoe Morgan - The Face - When the POI regulars need a little extra diplomacy they often call on Zoe for her skills with applying a different form of pressure to people. Zoe allows them the option to blackmail, dirty deal, trade in secrets, and similar. 
But wait what about cyborgs and the man-machine interface themes? What about the trans-human themes involved with genetic modifications and cybernetic modifications? Well Root is technically a cyborg, though a very minor one, with her cochlear implant granting direct access to the Machine. Decima also toyed with brain interface and control once Samaritan was running and we don't know if they had any level of success. 

The Machine and Samaritan also tie in some of the post-humanist themes. Finch is afraid of the Machine, especially after the machine's "reboot," and his fears come from his understanding that an intelligence as vastly beyond human as the AIs are could very easily begin to view us in the way we view pets or even insects. 

POI may not be the chrome and mirror shades Cyberpunk that probably comes to mind most often when people think of the theme, but I believe that it is most certainly a cyberpunk series and in its own way it shows us that cyberpunk need not be limited to that stereotype of post-modern dystopia.