Character advancement in Jadepunk

My players and I have recently been discussing the speed of advancement in our Jadepunk campaign; we’d reached that level where the players were routinely thrashing all but the most ridiculously potent of opponents and passing most tests without need of recourse to Fate Points.

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Could the EoE dice be used in Fate?

DiceFanAs a massive fate-head one of the signs that I love a new system is if I immediately think ‘how could I convert it or some of the mechanics to run in Fate?’

So I played Edge of Empire for the first time earlier today (you can see the video of the hangout here), great game hosted by Runeslinger and I really enjoyed it; the game uses dice with special symbols on them to build up a narrative around a dice roll rather than a simple success/failure dichotomy. I love this as an idea and think it could be adapted to be used with Fate.

This is by no means a tested system, just a few ideas I’m jotting down whilst they’re in my head, I might revisit it later when I have more time to playtest.

Okay so you’ll need some knowledge of the EoE dice mechanic to understand this but here goes…

Dice: Instead of rolling 4DF you choose a number of green ability dice equal to your skill/approach; for each stunt you have that is applicable to the situation you upgrade one of your dice pool to a yellow proficiency dice.

You then add a number of purple difficulty dice equal to the difficulty of the task (as per the EoE book) if unopposed, or equal to the opponents skill/approach if they are directly opposing you.

For each stunt the opposing NPC (if applicable) has that applies to the situation one of the purple dice is upgraded to a red challenge dice.

If you have an aspect that is applicable you can spend a Fate Point to add a blue boost dice to your roll, these are also added for other beneficial conditions; for every negative condition or aspect/fate point combo the GM uses you add a black setback dice.

You then roll the dice pool and determine results as per the EoE rulebook; I haven’t considered what the various extra symbols (triumph, despair) could be spent on yet.

Fate points: Characters get Fate points as normal, although if you wanted to represent an ebb-and-flow in the way destiny points work in EoE, you could combine the player Fate Points into a single pool; when they spend a FP from the pool it goes straight into the GMs fate point pool, and when the GM spends a FP the spent points go into the players pool.

Compels: These would work as per the Fate rulebooks, however you could also accept additional setback dice in your pool in return for fate points.

 

 

Hindrances in Grim World

I’ve recently been reading the excellent Grim World game supplement for Dungeon World and the Fate roleplaying system; if you’re a fan of either game then I highly recommend that you have a look at it since there are some excellent classes and new ideas listed that can add a lot to any game. A particular section that caught my eye was titled “Dungeon World/Fate hack” and it suggested porting some elements from the Fate system over into the DW game; essentially the player picks three ‘hindrances’ (similar to the ‘trouble aspect’ in Fate) when generating their character and, whenever the GM uses the hindrance to cause them complications (as with ‘compels’ in Fate) the players receive a luck point that can be used to re-roll dice, gain bonuses or add improvised elements to the setting.
Effectively the hack is porting trouble aspects, GM compels and fate points into the Dungeon World setting and doing so very simply with minimal additional complication (always a positive thing in my view); it got me thinking as well that, aside from the actual effects of spending the luck points, the ideas behind this are pretty much non-system specific. I think that this idea could be used to great effect in other games, encouraging players to think a little about what causes their characters problems in their life and it also allows the players to have a little more input into the game setting, for example, if one of the players takes ‘in debt with the mob’ as a hindrance then you can reasonably infer that they are interesting in seeing some stories involving organised crime.
I’d love to think that people will give this idea a try in some other games, if you do, let me know how it goes 🙂

God Machine Chronicle – The World According to Maggy Pike : Part Four

IC blog of fourth and final God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.

Ok, so now we are totally clear that Dr Who didn’t turn up to save the day. Oddly enough it was Brian and Joe, yep you did read right, Mr my mouth always gets into trouble Best and Mr I would rather knock your teeth out than talk to you Thompson came to our rescue, the most unconventional knights in battered and bloody armor ever.
Like I said before, I am writing this all down to try to make sense of it all but if I am completely honest I think it will take me more than this life time to achieve.
I left my last blog where I was about to answer a call. I really thought that my brains were going to be sucked out through the speaker or something else dreadful but I am also the kind of person that really cannot let a phone ring, you never know how much will cost to ignore in my line of business.
I took a very deep breath and pressed the answer button on my phone.
“Hello” Both I and Brian say together.
I have to pull the phone away from my ear, instead of a voice came a noise. Now, anyone under the age of about twenty five will have no idea what I’m talking about and by rights I shouldn’t know either but my father was not one to keep up with technology.
So, this noise was a banshee like screech of the sound when you pick up the home phone when the internet is plugged into the land line socket.
After the noise dies away I place the speaker next to my ear again and hear nothing but static. In the background a voice like a mouse shouting in a tin can I hear Hello? Hello?
I remembered what was said in the pub about they can hear you when you can hear static so I quickly hang up.
Brian from the sound of it though heard something and tries to engage the voice in conversation.
“Bartek? Is that you? What do you mean?
I guess that Bartek doesn’t answer, besides the fact that Brian said he was dead that is, he hangs up with a puzzled look on his face.
I presume our voices wake Catia because when I turn round she is sitting upright and has her laptop open and her fingers are furiously tapping across the keyboard.
She looks a little frustrated, there is no connection but again we hear the sound of static. This time it is coming from her speakers.
A voice sounding like Stephen Hawking’s mixed with the speaking clock is reciting numbers, the same numbers we came across a few hours earlier.
“Do you have a bible?” Brian casually asks.
“What type of question is that to ask a person? To be honest I have no idea. Go and have a look if you want.”
“Now there isn’t anything to get embarrassed about is there. Um you know, in your draws…” Brian asks, clearly uncomfortable about finding a ladies personal, battery powered devices.
“Nothing to be embarrassed about.” I smirk
“It’s not your embarrassment I am on about” He replies turning away.
“No, go ahead.”  I call to him in the bedroom, I know there are some Buddhist books and books on growing stuff but I am pretty sure there isn’t a Gideon’s in there although you can never be sure. They do seem to be popping up everywhere now.
While I am enjoying this mild form of entertainment Catia, with a look of panic turns off her laptop but the voice continues. She quickly removes the battery and stillit continues. In a desperate attempt to stop something from happening she runs over to my window and fights against the storm to open it. The laptop goes the same way my mirrors did and it turns end over end in the air before it disappears from view.
Our smack head friend looks upset seeing the laptop disappear out the window. You can clearly see I could have sold that flicker across his face before he shrugs and continues eating.
She turns back and goes to grab anything with a speaker.
Telly I am fine with loosing I am also fine with losing the land line, the only person who knows it besides the gas and electric people is my mother and I am totally fine with not hearing from her. However my stereo also has speakers and I am not letting them go. Ever.
“Don’t touch my stereo.” I warn her.
Catia is about to speak when there is a frantic banging on my door. I look through the spy hole to see the resident smack head pounding his fists on the wooden door.
My good nature overrides common sense and I open it.
He barges past me and bangs the door shut behind him, pushing all the locks into place as he goes.
“Do come in.” I say sarcastically
He leans back on the door and exhales.
“Sorry about that.” He replies to my sarcasm “but it has gone to shit out there.”
I am not sure if it is the ah-hem samples that Joe gave to him earlier or adrenalin that is making him shake but this lad is messed up. A second look at him and it is mainly adrenalin. Mainly.
He is terrified.
He sits down and tells me that he saw a group of Polish men kicking the shit out of someone on the stairs. It had all kicked off at the pub and when Joe went in to disperse the crowd it had just carried on all through the block. There was no way he could have helped the man. Although I didn’t say anything I am sure that he could have done something. so he panicked and ran to the only person he knew on this floor. Me. Lucky me.
“We cut your arm off.” Great bit of timing there from Joe informing Brian of the simple solution. The poor lad looks even more horrified.
“Cut whose arm off?” He asks, his pail completion slowly whitening more.
I tell him to make himself at home. There is food about the house and I am sure there is some beer left in the fridge and push the rolling stuff towards him in the hope it will distract him from the conversation that Joe and Brian are having about going back into the mirror world.
He grabs some left over vegetable chaw main off the table and commences shoveling it into his mouth.
“There’s a microwave in the kitchen.” I gesture with my hand. I would feel better if he nuked the hell out of it, I don’t want to add food poisoning to the lads list of problems.
“It’s working?” He asks surprised.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?” I ask, just as surprised.
The power keeps going, I think the generators on its last legs to be honest, it must have been going since, err well, since, erm since the storm began I suppose.”
There it is again, not knowing when the storm hit. Once you know what to look for it seems like the clues to whatever are bloody everywhere.
“No, we haven’t been hit yet.”
“Well you’re lucky then, all the floors lights keep going out.”
He ambles off clutching his leftovers into the kitchen where I hear a can being opened and the microwave bursting to life.
The two lads get up and arming themselves with what sharp cooking equipment is left on the draining board, a fairly serviceable carving knife for Brian and an innocent bread knife that just looks evil in Joe’s skilled hands they check the spy hole and make a brake for it.
I tell Catia that I am going to grab as much stuff as I can as there are possible black outs heading our way and while I am checking the contense of the medical cabinet she informs me that if we both go to her flat then she has a lot more medical supplies there and we can stock pile between us.
I quickly run around the flat grabbing blankets, torches, batters, candles, lighter fuel and a couple of lighters and pile them around the living room before we go over to hers.
“Look at me dude.” I ask our pet druggy. “Now I am trusting you to stay here for a few minutes while we nip over the road, cross me and I’ll hunt you down.” He nods but I think from the way he has downed the takeaway, two pot noodles and is currently necking a third as long as the food keeps coming there won’t be any problems but he shaking like the devil in a nunnery and who knows when the little medicated voices in his head will flip the switch.
We time our moment and run over to her place.
Shoes, clothes, dirty plates are all scattered over the room, bomb site style as she grabs a rucksack and begins grabbing everything she can find for a first aid bag, including a couple of small bottles that she stashes away in her pocket.
Honestly from the picture perfect style of this girl you really wouldn’t think she would let her place get so bogged down but then if she is spending all her time on hair, makeup, clothes and shoes something’s have to slide.
We get back to my flat and secretly surprised that he hasn’t cleaned me out Catia sits beside him and pulls out a couple of pills from her bag.
“Oi smack head!”
“I ain’ no smack head.” He answers slightly hurt
I have to laugh; it looks like the last few days have hardened our lass’s squeamish nature.
“I take base.” He continues under his breath.
“These are a little something that will get you high but will defiantly kill you. Do not take these if you until you are sure you want to die.”
Our resident junkie looks towards me, I shrug I honestly have no idea what they are. He then looks at Catia and gratefully takes them; he has suddenly stopped shaking so much and rediscovers his appetite.
“Come and help me find some sheets for bandages hon.” I ask Catia, well I can’t keep feeding everyone tea can I?
While we route around in the bedroom I ask Catia
“So what were these Devine pills then?”
“Devine?”
“Yeah, you know, get you so high you touch heaven and want to stay there.”
Oh. Yeah. Paracetamol, ‘bout 500mg.”
“Paracetamol?” I ask flatly.
“Yeah, I can see he’s twitchy, if he thinks he has something then he’ll stop worrying. Placebo effect” She smiles.
“Ah, I see. Clever. Here these will do.” I grab an old bed sheet, towel and a pair of sheers and we head back into the front room.
We have been working on or little makeshift hospital for about an hour when, trying very hard to ignore the sounds of gun fire and screams of the riot when someone begins to bang on the door.
“Who is it?” I yell.
“We’re squishy.” Joe’s voice yells back
They force the door open as I am undoing the locks and fall through in a rush to escape all the excitement.
Brian, who I am sure, has his brain wired directly to his jaw. It is either that or his head will explode if he stops talking for five minutes tells me begins to tell me what happened.
Joe sits on a free chair, he is looking thoughtful. That is never a good thing. It usually ends up painful for someone.
“We fight out way into the corridors; everyone was out there, all fighting. In some form of blood lust frenzy. This begins to peter out after the tenth floor and by the time we get to the thirteenth floor there is no one out there. It’s all quiet like. I go to jimmy the lock when I hear footsteps coming towards us. And blow me if Bartek opens the door. Alive, well and healthy looking. In a suit fresh from the cleaners, I say fresh from the cleaners. He invites us in all friendly like, and so’s I ask about the coffee table he sold to me when I was up there last. Bartek then tells me he doesn’t remember but they are welcome to it. I asks him to oblige us with a cuppa and while he is making tea I flips the table over and tries to push me hand through. And you’ll never believe it; it was solid. Just a normal mirror. He comes back a bit quicker than we expected so Jo asks him about some weapons. As they are chatting well blow me if a cat appears from the back room and sits down and stares at us. We make our excuses to leave and when Joe shakes his hand it is the same breezeblock feeling from Miles. So what I’m reckoning is that when we heard his voice on the phone, it was the real one being uploaded into this new copy of him. ”
While Brian is talking at me Catia sits down next to him and pokes the patch of skin on his arm that has been numbed since the mechanical bagpuss bit him. Until she began testing the area around the deadened area he hadn’t noticed that it had been very slowly spreading up his arm. Well logically he wouldn’t would he? It is a numb patch of skin so no, you wouldn’t feel it. But before I manage to get this point across a soft scratching comes from the lower half of my front door. Automatically I look to the door expecting to see Luna wanting a little privet time. Luna is not there.
Now that is strange. She never leaves my side; she is like a canine shadow only much harder to remove. As I go to find her Catia shouts “Have you got a cat?”
“Cat? No. Dog, yes. That is if I can find her.” I say the last part to myself. I am starting to panic. She has not left my sight since she was a pup and that was only because she got stuck in the air ducts. I still have no idea how that happened but I would rather think about that now than the possibility that they have got to her.
Even in the bedroom I can clearly hear two sets of claws frantically scratching the woodwork to get in. I hear Catia say leave it outside to the others.
I crouch down next to the bed and look under it.
A pair of very frightened eyes look back. Luna is spooked and is not leaving the safety of the bed. I pull her out by the scruff of her neck and it is a fight. She wines, twists and tries to squirm out of my grip, she really doesn’t want to come out. I have never sensed so much fear pouring of one animal. I place her on my lap and try to comfort her from whatever is scaring her and let’s be honest I can guess it is coming from my front door. After about five minutes I still can’t calm her down so I let her go and she immediately wriggles back to the safety of the space under my bed.
“If the mirror door to Bartek has closed, what’s to say that any are still open? We need to get down to the first floor flat with the huge wall mirror. But I do suggest that the girls stay here.” I hear Joe explain to the group as I use the bed frame to pull myself up.
“Well how are we to get back outside without letting the cat in?” Brian asks as I return to the front room I feel I have missed part of the conversation but there is no time for them to go over it again.
“Open the door.” Joe commands. I would really like to see what would happen if one brave soul were to ever say no to him. I may have to try it one day, just one where he is not looking so determined.
Brian looks to Joe to see if he is ready and nods. He flings the door open and before anyone can react Joe is booting the cat rugby style and is looking for the try.
As the airborne cat shrieks its argument its instincts kick in and manages to drag one set of claws down his shin before it disappears down the corridor an angry furry flying ball of death and vengeance.
By the look of the clock about two hours go by. I know for a fact that it is not the right time, my job doesn’t have set hours but the minuet hand goes round twice so it’s an educated assumption. Our resident base head has finished his fifth pot noodle and is now dozing, with the help of a blunt that is still resting in his mouth in the bean bag chair.
“Is there anything else we can do?”
The noise out in the hall is now so loud that it sounds like it is literally outside the door. Before the lads left it sounded like any other street fight, all shouts and screams but there are more and more gun shots being heard. It sounds like total bedlam and only thing going to subdue the riot is when they are all dead.
“I can honestly think of nothing more we can do. If the lads come back injured and expecting a M.A.S.H set up and find that we are off gallivanting down the halls then that won’t help anyone.” I answer, rescuing the smoke from falling onto the chair.
Another hour goes by and the ashtray begins to over flow. As the noise of the bloodshed gets closer still, if that is at all possible.  Someone bangs on the door hard enough to knock it down.
“Who is it?” I ask exhaling bluish smoke of a blunt at the same time.
“We’re squishy.” Comes Joe’s reply again, this time though it seems labored.
“And Joe’s bleeding.” Brian continues.
They fall through door open as I am undoing the locks and force it shut, pushing the locks home again in anurgency only seen by people in fear for their lives.
Joe is indeed bleeding. There is a hole through his shoulder.
I get him to lie on the sofa while Catia attends to him.
“Got caught by a stray bullet.” Joe mumbles while being patched up.
“We need to get out. Out of the block and away from the building.” Brian tells me, he looks scared. I have never seen him look so shaken, that and Luna petrified under the bed I am happy to get away from here for a while.
I nod and start packing a bag.
“We need five ounces of your strongest stuff” Joe looks at me. He speaks more clearly now he is bandaged; I presume over ride kicked in, it has to in his line of work.
“Have you got anything to make us happy in that little bag of yours?” He asks Catia.
“Happier? Look I am all for having a session but what the hell is going on?”  As they both look at me then to each other I realize that my internal dialog has shut down and I actually said that out loud.
“We will explain outside, we have to get to the bus stop.” Brian answers. I can now see that he has a rucksack on his back with a tent perched on top.
“You” Joe turns to the junkie. “Come with me.” He is followed to the back room where I hear the door to the growing room being unlocked. I head into my room and grab Luna out from under the bed. I wrap her in a blanket, hide her under my coat as best I can and go back to the living room
“Monkey, meet the plantation.”  I hear Joe say as he pulls the door open
“What, really?”
“Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out.”
“Come on, we haven’t got time for this.” Brian says, checking the hallway through the spy hole.
Timing it carefully we manage to make it through the now almost berserker frenzy madness of the block inhabitants and after what seems like a life time we manage to get to the lobby.
“We are going to have to hold hands to make sure we don’t get lost in the blizzard” Says Brian.
“Fine, but we are going boy girl.” Joe replies.
Really? At a time like this you are worried about holding another blokes hand?
“Fine.”
We manage to struggle to the bus stop where, like before there is a tiny tropical square in the middle of Siberia.
The tent is just big enough to fit in the snow vacant space and just about big enough for the four of us to sit, snuggly inside. Well at least we are warm.
I sit and roll four blunts, so big I feel Jimmy Hendrix would be proud and with the help with, Valium I think Joe and Brian tell us what they found.
Now what you have to remember is that we were really, really high at this point so I am writing this as best as I remember it.
“After we realize that Bartek’s mirror either no longer worked or had been replaced somehow, Joe and I fought our way down to the first floor;  the abandoned flat, where we find the tall mirror, it feels like it was waiting for us; I don’t know how important it is but the door had been replaced. After Joe knock on the door, and when I mean knock I mean boot the thing off its hinges.  I pokes at the mirror and me hand goes through. I enters into the strange reflected world, where a strange iron-like smell fills the air, so thick it fills my nostrils and flows down into my lungs. After finding nothing in the flat Iwalks out into the corridor of the mirror-world. Odd red/black splotches are splattered along the walls, ceiled and floor of the corridor.
I am about to head upwards, as we agreed beforehand,when some movement outside the window catches me attention; looking outside through the flimsy, reflection of a window, they were as flimsy as the rest of the world, kinda like tracing paper. I sees a field of white with the strange black circle floating in it. Tearing the paper thin reflected window I pokes me head out and is confronted with a huge figure towering above the tenement, with pale white skin, colorless eyes, and a perfectly white suit; the hair of the figure is whipped about in the wind, but funnily enough there is none around me. It stares pitilessly down at the tower block.I waves at the humongous statue but there is no reaction and so I pulls my head back in and continues on me journey. “
Brian stops talking and motions with his hand to Joe to carry on with his part of the story.
“Not much to tell to be honest, in our world, well you have just seen how bad it was getting out of there.”
I can see that he is in a lot of pain, May be the Valium will kick in soon and he will feel like talking again.
Brian, sensing that that was all Joe wanted to say for now and continues, “Reaching the mirror world top floor, I sees that here the entire place is coated with the strange red/black substance, hell I can barely see any normal wall; I sees that there is a sky light in the ceiling but I need something to stand on. Irealize that none of the flimsy fake furniture in this mirror world will support my weight. And then I remembers that the furniture in the reflected version of my own place has been becoming progressively more solid since I had been bitten.”
“I make my way to the reflected version of my flat, I sees a shadowed figure sat watching the TV, and all too human for my liking and blow me if I don’t see my very own arm gripping the TV remote! Grabbing my mini-step ladder I attempted to leave without rousing the creature but the freakish scarecrow-like figure, with its horrible button eyes, crumbling straw and all too human arm rises from the chair and comes at me, stumbling like and hits me hard across the forehead with the remote. Thinking quickly I pin the thing to the wall using the ladder, sprays it with lighter fluid and flicks me lighter at it. The straw catches and begins to burn, flaming bits of grass and hessian falling to the ground, however the human arm burns like flesh and I feels the pain as though my own arm were catching fire and burning down to the bone. I grit my teeth against the pain and telling try to tell meself that it is not real, that was a challenge, I can tell you. I holds the scarecrow in place until it has burned completely, leaving just skeletal arm bones which crumble to dust when I touch it. After the adrenalin wears off a bit I poke at my own numb flesh and imagine my relief when it has all disappeared and back to its normal self.
I then go back to the skylight and use the ladder to pull meself up onto the roof. Coming face to face with the gigantic figure I wave and shout but I don’t think it can hear me as it just stands there staring. Care to try again Joe?”
Joe put the smoke to his lips and lit it with his zippo, he took a deep drag and then passed the still lit lighter to Catia who did the same and passed it down the line, “I had reached the top floor of the flats and after a while of talking to the door Mr Carlson eventually let me in. The pudgy man looked extremely scared, which I found rather odd as I had not spoken to him before.” Joe smirked. It wasn’t that funny but we laughed anyway.
“He was leaning on his cane hard as he let me in, as I followed him into the front room I could see he was limping. It took some persuading; after I shook his hand and I saw he was relieved to see it was a normal hand I told him that I was still squishy.” Again we laughed at something not very funny. I think the Valium was doing its thing.
“Carlson told me that he was only a middle manager. He was out of work with a sick mother and all sorts of bills piling up. A business group lead by Mr White approached him and offered to make him rich. The usual promises that would turn any man drowning in debt. They would take care of his mother and give him a place to live if he ran Spectro Vale for them.”
“Who is Mr White?”
“As I am speaking to Mr Carlson his phone rings. I pick it up and a restrained voice says our security is compromised, I would advise you to spend some time with your mother Mr Carlson. Your services will soon no longer be required.” Joe ignored the Mr White question; either that or he didn’t hear it.
“Carlson looked even more frightened on hearing the message and we head to his mother’s flat. The crazy cat lady of floor thirteen.  I have absolutely no idea how it happened as we were the only two out in the corridor but one moment he was fine the next he gave a shriek, clutched his chest and fell forward. At first I thought he had had a heart attack but when the claret started to leak through his figures I could see he had been shot. Seeing as there is nothing I can do for him, what with it being fatal and all I grab his ankles and carry on to his mother’s flat. Next thing I know the door of his dear mother flings open and Brian is standing there.”
Brian takes his queue without missing a beat.
“Ay, After I climbed back down the ladder I pushes open the door of the single top floor flat, the mirror of Mr Carlson’s and I comes face to face with a conglomeration of pipes and tubes emerging from the ceiling and pumping the red liquid into an eerily androgynous figure with a silver shine to its skin. It looked like a Giga version of a metallic angel, knife-like wings spread out behind it and its head hangs as though it was sleeping. I attempts to pull free one of the pipes but with startling speed the metallic angel’s hand, grasp mine in an effort to stop me. I pull my gun and shoot one of the pipes, at random like and, as the pipe flies free and the angel drops me. I dives to one side managing to avoid the spraying fluids. As I watch the pipe, snake like slithers back into the angels chest seemingly of its own accord and the figure goes back to sleep! I grab me can of lighter fluid and empties the tin all over the creature. I walk backwards drawing a trail back out to the corridor, I then flicks my lighter and tosses it onto the trail of fluid, watching as flame lanced out towards the, for want of a better word angel.”
“Then it gets interesting. The metal angel drops from the wall as the pipes burnt away, seemingly unharmed by the fire and began to slowly walk across the floor, towards me. Folding its knife blade wings with a noise like the cutlery draw being dropped. I draw my gun and fired it into the creatures chest; as it moves the creature seemed to be absorbing the stains on the walls and ceiling, feeding on the violence, death and pain I am guessing and apparently unharmed by the bullet. Which, again I am only going by what Joe tells me will be where Mr Carlson keels over.”
“It continues to absorb the stains of death and rage that now permeate the building, as it walks towards me and with each stain it absorbs it becomes progressively more human looking, until eventually I notice that the creature is not walking but hovers slightly above the ground. The angel seems to have no interest in me as it walks straight by me and continues to move down through the floors with me following until it reaches the 13th floor; a wave of its hand opens the flat that Irealize belongs to the crazy cat lady and I follow it inside. In the mirror version of the room, a strange metallic cockroach-like creature with a hugely distended abdomen lies squirming beneath a pile of fetid blankets, it convulses and one of the sack-headed cat things plops out of it with a sickening squelch; the angel waves its hand and the metallic cockroach begins to fall to pieces, I presume that it is no longer needed. The angel moves to the old woman’s mirror and passes through it, I follows it through and finds meself in the real world of the flat; there is no sign of the angel but the crazy cat lady lies dead in the next room, one of her cats perched on her lifeless chest. I guess that the angel had gone through the front door and I pull it open and find Joe dragging the bloody corpse of Mr Carlson. After we had exchanged pleasantries, while dodging the violence around is which at this point has reached epic proportions.”
The group goes quiet for some time. I am completely speechless. I, we had no idea what was going on in the mirror world. I can now see why the boys didn’t want us to go with them.
“I rummage through Carlson’s pocket and finding a mobile I scrolled through the received call list until I found a number marked with Mr White’s name. I pressed the call button and the same voice I spoke to in Carlson’s office answers. He tells me that the experiment is reaching its conclusion and that the violence in the hearts of all men has been awakened. He also tells me that the block will soon be shut down as the experiment ends. He is in charge of making sure that the residents of Spectro remains there, thus creating the storm. Soon however it will not be needed and he will be recycled with details of a new program. So I tell him that I will find him and ram his head up Satan’s arse. He then tells me that Satan is a prehistoric ideal and does not exist. Winner.” Joe beams and holds his thumbs up. Does this Mr White know what telling someone like Joe that there is no retribution will do?
Ok, so now the herbs and prescription drugs have well and truly taken affect and for the next ten minutes we are helpless with laughter. To tell the truth, it was a good job we were high or I don’t think we could process this story that belongs in a horror film.
“After that we begin to figure out that as violence begets violence then how about love, peace and compassion? That was when we came back to your flat and ended up here.” Joe continued, still giggling to himself.
“So what…?” I begin to ask but, as we hoped would happen, after the adrenalin faded and the drug induced sleep took us to the next day
Joe is the first to wake by something rapping on the outside of the tent; he emerges blearily into the warmth of a sunny, snowless day and find himself face to face with a policeman. As the conversation filters through the canvas we all crawl out to see Joe talking to the constable.
“Sorry sir but you cannot squat at the bus stop. People are trying to use the service.”
And yes there are people looking confused and fed up with trying to get on and off the bus while trying to navigate round a bell tent.
“Sorry officer, stag night.” I hear Brian say.
“Oh, I see. Well, I’ll take a walk round the block and if you’re not gone by the time I get back I’ll have to ask you all to follow me to the station for obstruction.”
“Alright lad? Yes I know it’s been a while, three months, really? Looks like I have some catching up to do then. Send me a car to pick up four and a staffy. We’re all going back to mine. ASAP. Cheers.”
Joe hangs up and pulls out his last cigar.
As much as we smoked last night, I really cannot be booked and searched for squatting at a bus stop, that’s how Hoover got found out. It will just open up a whole nest of vipers.
I look round to see where Luna is and I glance over in the direction of the block and all I see is an old, abandoned, burnt out shell of a building.
“Excuse me love but what happened to the block of flats over there?” I ask an old lady who is waiting for the next bus.
She looks at me slightly puzzled.
“What? Oh, Old Spectro Vale, some people went crazy in there and it burnt down when I was a girl, everyone died.”
I look at Brian, Catia and Joe while this timid octogenarian is speaking.
“When was this love?”
“Oh, it must have been fifty years ago…”
“Cars here.” I hear Joe yell and with her words echoing in my head I help Brian roughly pack up his tent and we all climb into the car and leave it all behind us.

God Machine Chronicle – The World According to Maggy Pike : Part Three

IC blog of third God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.

The best part of being asleep is the half and half just before you wake. My mind wakes up but my eyes don’t want to open,  its cold outside of my many, many blankets, mostly knitted gifts from my mother who doesn’t understand why their only daughter doesn’t give up slumming it as she so delicately calls it and come home. It’s not pride as my father calls it, I am happy with who I am and where I am and currently so is Luna is in her favourite spot on my feet which suits me fine, I don’t have to crawl to the dreaded space called under the bed to find my hot water bottle. I turn over, find a comfy spot and pull the blankets, Luna grumbles slightly as I dislodge her and taking this as her queue she jumps down and wanders off. Something tells me it’s not so she can go for a walk, her dragging her blanket and hiding under the coffee table in the front room after our outing to the bus stop yesterday is giving me a hint and judging from the bright light trying to invade my dark little cocoon from the window tells me there is no let up from the Artic conditions outside so I don’t plan to get out of bed any time soon.

I really should have learned over the past two but eventful days that even lying in bed all day is too much to ask.

A shrill shriek of something I recognise but my brain is refusing to process splits the contented silence. 

Then suddenly I realise that it is not the alarm clock but the fire alarm.

Oh shit!

I disentangle myself from the bed, falling out in the process; grab my clothes off the back of the arm chair-another one of my little gifts from my mum. She hates waste and will gladly donate her useless crap to others knowing she has done her bit and now it falls on the luckless person to take it graciously and either dispose of it themselves or use it. Her conscious is clear.

Trying to pull on my clothes and fight my way to the living room is a gymnastic feet in its self and really I shouldn’t have to worry about cardio for the rest of the week.

Luna tries to hide as I grab her lead, something I hate and she is better off than on and as a rule if no one is around I don’t bother. But as she is a Staffy the other occupants feel safer. She is unceremoniously pulled out and the chain is slipped over her neck as I am still traveling to the door. Out of habit I grab my brolly, again something that I can do without but as the owners of the flats have forgotten how the heating works in the corridors I don’t fancy getting wet and cold just because some turnip tried to relieve the monotony by seeing if the fire system still works. Besides dredds take a lot of time and effort to dry properly.

As I step outside the sprinklers are dying off, must be frozen in the pipes and there is a slight crunch under my faithful old Docs telling me that the pitiful amount of water is icing up nicely on the industrial sized ceramic tiled floor. 

My phone rings. Now usually this is a part of everyday modern life, nothing to write home about I hear you say but since the snow started to fall it signal has been nothing at best and in all honesty I actually stand there for a moment trying to work out what the noise is.

Pulling it out of my pocket I see that Catia is calling. She I have time for.

“Alright love?”

“Actually no.” Catia sounds flustered, but more so than usual, she had to drop out of nursing due to squeamishness and bless her it really doesn’t take much to make her flap.

What does she mean no? Come on woman your English even in the event of a bomb dropping on your home you say can’t complain or muss’nt grumble or the false safe yeah fine, what about you then gently ease into what is really bothering you.

She continues without pausing for me to respond or even breathe.

“there’s a riot at the pub, a kid got stuck in the middle, I got hit so set off the sprinklers to try to calm them down can you get hold of that guy, tall, dark hair, always wears a suit…”

“Yeah, Joe, I can try.” 

Ok so I take back the bit about the turnip, seems that she just panicked and tried anything.

I go back into the flat, let Luna off her lead and while I am hanging up my coat and brolly I check the signal on my phone. One bar. I have to chance it, a lot of good things Catia is, her ability to keep a clear and level head is not one of them. I flick through my last call list and hit Joe’s number.

After what seems the longest five seconds of my life so far a broken ringing tone can be heard.

“Yep” Joe answers, always the conversationalist.

I have no idea how long I have until I loose signal so I try to keep it quick.

“Catia just rang; apparently there is a riot at the residents meeting.”

“Say again?” I can hear his confusion and to be fair I see his point, a few old ladies who usually come for a moan about the youth of today and all the free tea and biscuits they can eat rioting, it does seem a bit overkill.

“Riot at the residents meeting, Kid got stuck in the middle, Catia got hit…” I pause for effect, one of Joes rules is no women no kids so this should be sorted soon.

“Where?”

“Red Lion.”

I hear a click as he hangs up. Well that’s my job done; Catia is now in the care of one of the people I trust so me going down as cavalry won’t do any good. 

I flick the boiler on; with all the adventures we seem to be having I have missed a couple of showers. Having almost a floors worth of plants growing around me doesn’t mean that I have to smell like a gardener’s armpit.

As soon as I flick off the shower the phone rings again. Twice in twenty minutes, must be my lucky day.

Drying off as quick as I can I see Joe wants a word.

“Hiya.”

“All sorted. Bring shovels.” As I hear the click of him hanging up telling me that is all. I stand in the bathroom bring shovels, what the fuck has he done and why do I have to bring the disposal gear? I dig out some clean clothes out of my laundry bag and quickly look round the growing rooms believing I will find at least one shovel I damn know I don’t have and after grabbing a couple of trowels and the entire spoon section of my cutlery draw and stuffing them into a embroidered draw string rucksack that already has my emergency stash of papers, green and other rolling stuff I may not be a clairvoyant but I can see a lot more stress that I can deal with sober in the not so distant future. I check Luna is ok for food, water and comfort I drop the latch and pull the door shut behind me.

Bugger, bugger, buggeration. Ok the pitifully small amount of water spat out of the sprinkler system has now frozen. I believe I need say no more than Bambie on ice. Got the picture? Good, let’s move on then.

I pull out my phone to ring Catia when I walk into her. 

“Strange question, do you own a shovel?”

I can see the swelling and violent colours of a black eye appearing whether they meant to hit her or not they caught her a good one.

“Erm no.”

“Come on then I shall explain on the way.”

“Where are we going?”

“To the pub.” I call over my shoulder.

Queue duet of Bambi on Ice. No its ok I can wait a minute.

Stepping through the remains of the double doors of the Red Lion we meet an obliterated room of kayos.

There is not a complete piece of bar room furniture left in the place. Glass is everywhere, pool cues snapped into matchstick sized shards, bits of cushion litter the floor. Oh no not even stuffed not so funny mascot survived.

Ron the ever fateful landlord is pushing the debris around with a broom. He looks done in. The way he occasionally jabs at the pile with the broom but doesn’t actually move it any wear shows just how defeated he is.

Reg looks up, terrified. He seems to relax when he sees me and Catia and leans on his brush.

“Sorry ladies can’t serve you right at this moment.” He points to the rubbish with a haunted look that only a man watching his livelihood going down the swanny can achieve.

“No worries love, it’s Joe we came to see and I was a bar maid once.” I try to sound cheerful.

“Oh well just serve yourselves and leave the money on the, on the…” he sighs and carries on.

Over to one side, at the end of the bar is Joe. Standing in his once immaculate suit, his not so highly polished shoes and the forever faithful Dell boy sheep skin coat. In his hand is a lit cigar, the first one stubbed out in a lonely ashtray that amazingly survived. On the remains of the bar are an empty bottle of scotch and half a bottle of Bourbon with a glass tumbler two thirds full and a pint of dark beer. Joe’s idea of a relaxing drink. 

I ignore the large heavy set and above all unconscious man laid out near to Joes feet and as I move round to perch myself on the pool table I also fail to mention the bean pole like figure of another who obviously choose to fight the wrong man today.

“I have trowels and spoons.”

Joe looks at me with a distinct lack of patients over the glass of bourbon.

“We don’t own shovels.” I explain as I pull out my emergency rolling kit and begin to build. Catia and Joe have a conversation that I will be honest, was not listening too until I hear Joe say “we can steal the digger.”

“Do you fancy that” Catia says

“What?” hoping that I would get a bit more of an explanation.

“Fancy stealing a digger.” Well that was stupid of me wasn’t it?”

Fuck it why not “Well I don’t have anything else planned today.”

Sweet baby Jesus on roller skates it is cold. I am sure I mentioned in earlier musings that I thought the Arctic was trying to broaden its horizons, we I know now that it has succeeded.

After I really don’t know how long we almost hypodermic three break through the wall of snow and begin to walk westwards. 

I have no idea where our destination is so I follow Catia and Joe as the look as if they know where they are going. This cannot be the case however, after a few minutes we turn the corner and low and behold in front of us is the glamorous entrance of Spectro Vale. 

Catia is convinced that we got somehow lost in the snow, it is a fair point, visibility is practically zero. But Joe doesn’t seem to have the same unshakeable belief.

“Where’s that bus stop.” His voice is almost lost to the moan of the wind.

I shout out instructions and we trudge on.

Hahaha! Yes one to the stoner! We struggle through to the sign poking out just above the snow line into a void of snow.

“SEE, SEE TOLD YOU!” I couldn’t help doing a little happy dance but stopped when I met Joes stare.

He seemed thoughtful for a second then spoke.

“Stay here, it’s safe and warm. Stay here until I come back.”

He builds a ramp to get over the wall and aft about ten steps he disappears into the blizzard like Scott of the Antarctic.

After about ten minutes the sound of snow being crushed underfoot is heard and Joe reappears with a perplexed bordering on angry look on his face.

Getting back to the cold but snow free shelter of the block we seem to be steered there by Joe to flat number thirteen on the first floor. It is easy to get into as the door is still missing and inside is completely unchanged. Off white paint all flats start with, the oval mirror draped in a dust sheet the sparse furniture also covered, hold on; there is something different. It is the flat we walked into yesterday. All furniture is in the proper place, not moved around as we left it. It seems strange that the janitor feels the need to tidy up but leave the door. Maybe they didn’t have one spare, what with no deliveries getting in and all.

As I am pondering the future of self-re-arranging furniture Catia has pulled off the sheet covering the mirror. She stairs into it, trying to find her own refection.

Deciding it will not appear; no matter how hard she looks Catia replaces the dust sheet and mutters “How is it connected?”

“Dunno, the snows not normal though.”

“Where were you going?” Catia asks

“To the building site but came back to the flats then same thing happened at the bus stop. Like it was making me double back.”

Joe explains that although he was tracing his steps so’s as not to cross his own path he seems to have been looped back regardless and cannot leave the safety of the block or the bus stop. 

Ok so we seem to have some form of tampering only so far known in fairy tales so that the huntsman gets lost in his own forest for all time. Oh joy.

“Like a mirror reflection” Catia replies looking at the huge oval outline.

“Yeah.” Joe answers following her gaze.

This is getting far too scary for me so while they are having this conversation I wander into the bedroom to look for more mirrors.

There is a familiar theme to the decor. Bare room and a space where a bed should be. There is one piece of furniture not covered by a sheet. A dressing table. 

Possibly no need for it being on its own in a sentience but don’t forget that a very humble wardrobe contained a whole other world.

On the dressing table was a small old hand mirror. Its mottled surface noticeably dull compared to its much bigger brother in the other room.

I pick it up as if it is about to explode and very carefully peer into the glass.

Nope no white rabbit, just me.

I sigh and with a small amount of confidence I brush the surface with my thumb. No ripple. 

I walk out of the room with it still in my hand and look at Catia.

“Is that one?”

“No, normal, well my hand doesn’t disappear.” I say slightly manically

“Does it reflect?” She asks

“Yeah, look.” I reply holding it up to her.

I go over to the mirror and I cave to the strange compulsion to put up the hand mirror to the other to see infinity.

While we are trying this little experiment Joe is repeatedly picking up the mirror moving it several feet, pushing his hand through and beginning again.

Catia positions it to show Joe. As he puts his hand into the mercury surface he disappears from the hand held mirror. We look at Joe, half expecting him not to be there and watching the actual him pull out his hand he reappears in the looking glass.

“I say we smash it.” He says biting his thumb and indicating to the domineering oval.

“It wouldn’t smash” I reply.

“What about smashing the frame?” He replies.

“I want to put Miles in front of it.”

“What? Go into his house and hold it in front of him like Nosferatu?” 

Before I have time to reply to Joe he takes the mirror out of my hand and pushes it through the silvery doorway followed by his head.

“This doesn’t reflect in the mirror world, it goes black.” 

“How many mirrors are there?” Catia asks with a look of quiet desperation.

“That we know of, four ish.” Joe replies calmly.

“I want to put them into each other.” Catia whispers.

“Welcome to the end of the world.” Joe mutters.

The shrill sound of a ring tone cuts through the silence. Joe pulls out his phone and looks at the screen. He swipes over the answer key.

“Morning Brian”. Believe it or not it is only half past nine in the morning.

“A riot.”

“Err yeah, downstairs.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

“Mirrors. Hold on.”

With the phone still to his ear Joe sticks his head through the portal. Pulls his head back out and for a moment the cool, calm, murderous exterior slips. He looks extremely flustered.

“Morning.” Brian’s northern tone comes from behind us.

“Come in I’ve got a job for you.”

Brian looks us up and down. For saying it is still early we are all looking a little worse for wear.

“What’s been going on? 

“Tried to leave and came back on ourselves.”

Brian, with a slight look of confusion waits for an explanation that makes sense.

“Try walking to the bus stop.” I add.

“We tried to walk from the block to the building site across the road and ended walking back to the front doors. Then we tried to go from the bus stop to the building site and the same thing happened again.” Joe explains further.

“You’re pulling me leg!” Brian says raising his voice.

“Yeah Brian, its all fun and games.” Joe answers dripping with sarcasm.

I have had enough of this. Why would we be making all this shit up as the boys continue I grab my bag and start rolling?

Catia flops down onto the sofa. She sighs loudly; it appears that all this is getting too much for the poor girl.

I finish rolling something Bob Marley would be proud of, plonk myself next to Catia and offer her first dibs.

“Go back into the mirror; go up to Miles’s flat.” I hear Joe say to Brian. 

“Ooh, phone, take it with him.” I say exhaling while I speak. 

“No, doesn’t work, when I stuck my head through I got a well-spoken voice saying “what has risen may fall and what has fallen will rise again.” Oh so now I know why he looked shaken after pulling his head back out.

“What do you mean, like a PA?” I ask

“No, through the phone as in speaking to you.” Joe explains.

Brian makes some sort of Star Trek reference, I can’t really remember what it was, I am a Dr Who girl meself and steps through.

It took about fifteen minutes for Brian to go his work and as I was stubbing the nub out on the sole of my boot he re-appears.

“Well that’s a bit of a bugger.” He remarks.

“What did you find?” Joe asks.

“Miles room has been swopped over.”

“What?” Joe questions

“Well, you know I said before that in the reflection everything was like props on a set? All cardboard and no substance yeah? Well Miles flat wasn’t like that. It was all real, tins were proper tins and the sofa was well a sofa. And it was the shit tip that we left two nights ago, complete with blueprints. But all the writing was in reverse, like when you hold writing up to a mirror,” Brian pauses for us to speak, or take a breath, he was getting quite flustered over the next bit of information.

“I remembered what you said about your phone not working properly so I tried ringing you. But what I actually got was the sound of static and a faint voice saying:

“1…13…2…48…3…18…4…26…5…35…6…19…7…20…8…32…9…29…10…25…11…15…12…23…13…0…14…25…15…1”

“Go back and find a mirror. Take this, it will turn black.” instructs Joe, handing him the seemingly innocent hand mirror.

“Aint the strangest thing that’s happened.” Brian replies. As he reached out to take the mirror, it must have brushed over where he had been bitten because he began to poke at his hand.

“Doesn’t feel right.”

Catia, with her nurses’ instinct reaches out to Brian and pulls his hand towards her.

“Where the bloody thing bit me.” He continues looking at Joe.

“What bit you?” Catia asks in the calm, careful tone of nurses training.

“Yesterday, clockwork things.” I think Brian has possibly lost a small amount of his power of speech. I noticed that where two puncture wounds should have been but was now just a patch of dry flaky skin but I didn’t say anything, we had enough to worry about.

“Something creepy.” Catia shudders.

“Check your room too.” Joe orders.

“Sacrificial lamb here.” Brian replies before vanishing again.

Joe pulled out a map and began to cross reference the numbers. 1 13 corresponded with the flat we were currently standing in but as that was the only match it was put down to coincidence.

As we had nothing else to do until Brian came back we began to come up with ideas for the numbers. Some of the less elaborate were for how many were either in control or not on each floor. How many mirrors were on each floor? How many people were in the building?

While we were discussing the infinite number of possibilities a horrible feeling began to creep up on me. The kind of feeling that starts as a shock in your stomach and falls down your legs making you cold as it goes.

“Has anyone checked their own mirrors?” I hesitate, I am not totally sure I want to know the answer.

“I don’t have any.” Joe shrugs.

“I am just going home for a moment.” I say as I back out of the door.

As I turn the corner onto my floor I see a hooded figure at my door. I hang back for a moment; I think they may have come to get me.

The hood moves, indicating that the figure has just checked to see if anyone is around, then begins to knock frantically. Personally I don’t see the clockwork men knocking.

“Can I help you luv?” I step out of the shadow of the stair well I can see one of the local ASBO crew.

He pulls down his hood to reveal a sweating, pasty looking, shaking mess of a lad not too much younger than me. I sigh inwardly I really don’t like seeing a body beginning cold turkey; it just shows how sad people let their lives get.

“Yeah. Erm me mate said.” He can hardly get his words out he’s got the shakes so bad. He thrusts his hand into his pocket and pulls out a handful of notes. He would gladly give me everything he owns at this point for a fix.

“Look, can we go inside. I don’t really want to do this out here.” I am surprised, most would gladly swop cash in a police station the state he’s in. I am hesitant though, the last couple of days have made me question everything.

I look him up and down, if the clockwork men can do such a bang up job of copying this wreck then we’re all doomed, we just don’t know it yet.

“Come on in.” I unlock the door and walk in. Luna goes crazy at my return but she quickly goes to her bed after a bit of fuss.

The lad sits down but he can’t sit still. I pull out a shoe box from under the table and look for my medical strength, this lad needs calming down. I roll a blunt and offer it to him. He takes it great fully and after a few drags it seems to help a little. 

“What can you get?”

“Just weed luv.” I reply taking the smoke.

“Don’t you do owt harder?” He looks crestfallen.

“No I just do weed.”

“Look, please, can’t you ask someone. Because of the snow no one has anything. We are getting really desperate. Please.”

“There is someone I can try. Do ya want a brew?”

I go to the kitchen and check my phone. Well will wonders never cease? Still one bar but it keeps disappearing. Ah well you never know.

“Yeah.” I hear Joe say.

“Don’t suppose you have anything stronger than weed on you?” There is no point saying hi its Maggie to this man, he really doesn’t do phone calls and the last time I said it his reply was yeah I know, the display screen told me. I took the hint after that.

“Not much, few sample bags; why?” 

“I’ve got a lad here with the shakes so bad I think he would give anyone with a fix everything he owned right now.”

“I’ll take it.” Joe replies without skipping a beat, a business man to the end.

“Well knowing where you are I can’t really send him to you.”

“Find out his address and I’ll drop by later.”

“Ok cool, listen, he says there are a few of his mates looking around too, there is almost nothing left because of the snow.”

“Yeah, yeah I’ll sort it.” And Joe hangs up.

“What’s your flat number luv? The lad I just spoke to is a bit busy right now but he can come round later.” I shout through to the front room as I finish making the tea.

“Second floor flat eighty one.” He answers relief dripping off his words like syrup.

I grab my phone and quickly text the address to Joe. My memory is worse than a rusty sieve.

“Thank you, thanks. Nice one, thanks.” 

I look up and he is closing the door behind him, well the state he was in at least he said thank you before he left. I pause; I know I came here to do something. I look round Oh yeah, mirrors.

It doesn’t take me long to dig out all the mirrors I own I am not the kind of gall that when asked if she is ready shouts back I said I would be ready in five minutes, stop asking every half hour! And it’s not like you need one to wash your face or brush your teeth.

I fight to push the window open. Eventually after I managed to shift enough snow and ice to home a penguin from around the frame I have a gap large enough to throw through and waste no time in doing so. On the last mirror though I something horrible. As it spun end over end I saw a pair of eyes that were most defiantly not mine staring back at me. No I agree it is not as horrible as some of us have seen (Brian) but when that happens to someone when they are not expecting it, it can throw you off.

It was only a brief glimpse, but to be honest that was enough before it was lost to the fog. I heard the smash then quickly shut the window, just in case. That and I was rapidly losing heat.

I grab the medical strength off the table and role another blunt. It is a bloody good job I am harvesting soon; with all the drama of the last few days I am going to be smoking my profit soon.

Slightly unsteadily I go back down the first floor, fault thirteen; I am not staying on my own for the foreseeable future.

“Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck!” Is just about all I can manage about now.

As I explain what happened to Joe, Catia is checking around behind me through her mirror compact. An action which is defiantly not helping my mood right now.

“Was it your reflection?” Joe askes without a trace of humour. Second straw braking.

“Look, I may grow strong shit but apart from today I have never touched it. And that was not me.” I say quietly through gritted teeth.

“I hate this building!” Joe says throwing his arms out wide.

“I want to burn it down? Why don’t we burn it down? In fact fuck it! Let’s burn it down.” Joe’s crusty exterior slips slightly again as he has a conversation all on his own, then suddenly, as if he realised what was going on it was back up.

“It isn’t snowing outside.” He said to me. 

Ooookay it isn’t back up it has totally cracked.

“Yes it is I got a face full of it when I was generating around.” I pause and do some rough maths work with the aid of my fingers. “Twenty eight years bad luck.” Shit, really that much?

“No, I rang the boys up earlier and outside this building as in the streets around the area are all clear. It is not snowing.

“Yes it is.” I say slowly and carefully, as not to excite him.

“Yes, here it is but not everywhere else it is not.”

“Well why not? What with everything else happing around here.” I concede. 

“Now I don’t know what usually happens, I’m not a Sy fi fan.”

Ah ha just my field.

“Well what usually happens is Dr Who turns up and saves the day.” I answer confidently.

“I don’t know who the hell you’re talking about but he had better hurry the fuck up.”

As we study the mirror again, willing it to show us something we hear a cough behind us.

Brian is in the doorway.

“Not disturbing you am I? Have I been through some shit today?”

“Really?” I ask a little manically.

“Really, really.” Brian answers mockingly.

I open my mouth to rip him a new one when he pulls aside his coat to reveal a mass of blood and bandages.

I shut my mouth again.

“You have, he has. Maybe it will make sense if we…”

I shush Joe into silence, a risky manoeuvre I know but it is worth it.

Sqeeek, sqeeek. Slurp splat.

Shit it’s the only understands English when it suits him cleaner.

Without a word we all come to the conclusion to leave the flat in the opposite direction, handily which is towards the Red Lion.

Which now sadly looks like a bad day in Bosnia, Sat at the end of the bar is Reg. Very drunk with a shot glass and an almost empty bottle.

Reg slides the bottle over to us and after fishing out some un-unbroken glasses and join him in a drink to mourn the passing of his livelihood 

“What a day.” Reg says to himself. He pours another drink for the group and in silence we drink our drinks.

Brian chooses this to be the perfect time to show is what he saw in mirror world.

Brian shows us all the picture of inside his flat, his own apartment; it seems, like almost every other reflection version of a place that I have heard him describe, as an imperfect reflection of his apartment. Brian explains he is about to leave when he hears a low snoring sound emanating from his room. Warily venturing in the sound appears to be coming from a pile of covers on the mirror-version of his bed, he pulled them back carefully he exposed a hessian sack made into a horrific likeness of a head with two large round button eyes and thick black stitching making a straight line for a mouth, the snoring appears to be coming from inside the sack and it looked like the scarecrow figure is wearing Brian’s pajamas. Drawing back in horror, he caught the the covers with his foot exposing the arm of the scarecrow, he nnoticed with terror, there was fear in his voice. That there is a small patch of perfect human skin on the right hand of the creature, corresponding with the number patch on his own hand.

There was the same scarecrow copy of Brartek sitting in Barteks flat which was disturbing enough but the video clip of the thing moving only its head when he says his name backwards was worse. 

After he had managed to jimmie the door open and walk inside, he can just make out a barely visible figure sits with its back to him in Bartek’s high backed chair, as he circles round the chair warily he saw another scarecrow like figure, this one clad in the same charcoal grey suit that he last saw Bartek wearing; he attemps to talk to the figure but got no response until he tried speaking backwards. The head begins to move on the screen, following him around the room, soulless black button eyes staring blankly at him. Even though Brian is not in the picture it is easy to hear him trying to breathe slowly clearly uunnerved by it. He writes ‘who are you and what do you want?’ backwards on a piece of paper and tthrew it onto the lap of the scarecrow; it reachedd up slowly with its other arm to retrieve the note. There is a sharp intake of breath and the picture zooms on to its right arm. It is almost entirely human. Again Brian attempts to speak to it backwards saying “Who are you and what is this place?”

The screen goes blank.

“At this point my phone rings. When I answer it over the crackling staticy noise he hears a voice that sounds like Barteks but only speaking backwards. He says wwhat are you doing in my home? I thought that you would have bought you friends again. Realizing that I am speaking to the scarecrow and that it seems to have Bartek’s memories. I drag the downward facing mirror that was being used a table in the apartment upright and points it at the scarecrow, when he looks into it he sees the real world apartment and the real Bartek sat on his chair, he looks pale and very unwell, he is rubbing his right arm with a pain expression on his face. Which was a bloody shock; I say a bloody shock I can tell you. I then step into the large mirror, and emerges under the table in Barteks apartment, when I crawl out and attempts to speak to Bartek, the old man fires an antique pistol from beneath his blanket, hitting me square in the shoulder, the old gangster then shouts at me Which one are you? I’m the real one I reply, showing the blood from the hole in his shoulder, this seems to mollify Bartek somewhat who then directs me to some appropriate tools to remove the bullet and cauterize the wound, clean meself up like, in his bathroom cabinet. When I returns, having cleaned meself up, Bartek (after some small prompting) explains that he originally used to live on the tenth floor of the building, but after he noticed some strange goings on and that they seemed to focus around the thirteenth floor he bribed his way into possession of his current apartment; it was when he moved in he found the mirror and realized that it was potentially a gate to somewhere else, unwilling to go through but not wanting to dispose of it unless someone else was tempted by it Bartek pointed it at the floor and disguised it as a simple table. Bartek asks me whether he has seen the original blueprints of the Specto Vale block and, when I look at him blankly, he explains that there was no thirteenth floor listed on the original blueprints but there is one on the revised blueprints made available to the public; he also mentions to me that no-one in the flat seems to remember exactly when the storm began or how long they’ve been trapped here, most people don’t seem to want to know. Well you can imagine my surprise when I can’t remember the exact dates or times either; I then attempts to show Bartek some photos on his phone but Bartek tells me not to use a phone saying that people in the block only get a single when ‘they’ want to listen in on us. 

Brian shakily tries to explain to Bartek about the scarecrows and that he believes both himself and Bartek are having their life drained away into their duplicates, as represented by the slowly spreading numbness in his hand and Bartek’s useless right arm. When I wait for him to reply I realise that Bartek has not moved or said anything for several minutes, I leans over to check his pulse and I finds that the old man has died quietly. He took a deep breath and drank from the glass in front of him. Then he dipped into his pocket and dropped the bullet onto the wooden surface with a final thump.  

Brian, if you do ever read my diary then I am truly sorry. I was as high as a Hindu cow and obviously did not know what I was saying.

I am not one to blame the weed for people’s reactions. Usually I would say that whatever was said or done while high was what needed to be said or done anyway. However I may have to re label this particular stem of medical strength marijuana as I have absolutely no idea why I said what I said next.

“Well did you have someone elses reflection staring at you through your own mirror in your own home?”

Clearly Brian took a dim view on my attitude and we spent the next ten minutes arguing about how I could have been hallucinating and him not taking me seriously.

“Enough!” Joe shouts in his dad voice. We stop dead and Brian turns to Reg as if nothing has happened.

“When did it start snowing?”

“What?” Reg slurs.

“When did it start snowing lad?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh c’mon Reg, you must know.”

“I dunno why?” 

“Well Reg, you have to keep the bar and cellar stocked. It must be running low as no deliveries can come in.”

“We’re pretty well stocked. Ha well we were.” Reg 

“So if it’s pretty well stocked, as you say then you should have had a delivery quiet recently. So Reg, when did it start snowing?”

“Look I don’t see how this is going to help get my pub back to the way it was.” Reg starts getting very irritated about this line of questioning. Just like Brian said.

He storms off and possibly raids his personal stash of black label Vodka as he comes back with a full one in one hand and as he walks past the row of pint glasses he plucks one out and in one swift movement has filled it up four fingers from the rim. Skilfully done. As I am not much of a spirit drinker I feel it is time to roll another.

Brian is saying something about not wanting to go back to his flat, I don’t blood blame him. 

“I’d rather sleep in the cab and freeze to death than go back there tonight.” He says to Joe.

“Crash on my sofa and shut up.” I reply licking the paper and running my finger over it. 

He looks at his spaz hands as he called them and carried on the conversation with Joe.

I now give up.

However Joe does not.

“…there are none in her flat; she just chucked them all out the window. Brian that is not a good idea”

“I plan to take out my sack” I cannot help but to snigger slightly at this innocent remark “What was your plan to save my life?” Brian askes.

“Cut your arm off.” Joe says. Did I mention his people skills are epic?

I look to Catia f or a bit of female solidarity but the whole day plus a couple more smokes she is used to had all become too much for her because she is fast asleep curled up on the pool table. Letting the conversation roll over me my brain tries to grab my attention. What I have been hearing is a hissing sound coming from the speakers rigged up on the wall. Proper huge tatty 80’s jobs that probably fell off the back of the lorry but from the state of them weren’t caught in time.

“Reg?” 

“Yeah?”

“Are those speakers on?”

“Yeah, their plugged in but the mic’s off behind the bar.”

“Boys? The speakers just started hissing.”

“I am off to my bed” Brian announces, casually. 

He then writes down on his note pad Bartek said that the more you notice them, the more they notice you.

“Well I aint going with you.” Joe answers nodding his head. “Let’s have a chat outside.”

Joe picks up sleeping beauty and slings her over his shoulder. 

“Take her back to my flat for now.”

“Then I am going to smash the mirror” He calls over Catia.

Suddenly all four of our mobiles. Unknown number is flashing on the screens.

Joe sends it to answer phone while I and Brian press the answer button.

I try to ignore the feeling that I am about be sucked into the phone line.

Planning for my first G+ game

Okay, so a few friends of mine who I do LARP (Live-Action RolePlay) with and myself were chatting a while back about tabletop roleplaying and I was telling them about some of the games that i’m GMing at present; now most of them live a fair distance away and a couple of them were lamenting the lack of tabletop RPG action in their area, also, although we all meet up for weekends of LARP there’s not quite the same impetus to travel the length of the country in order to do a single night of tabletopping. Given that a few of us have been getting more into Google+ and Youtube recently (https://www.youtube.com/user/MrLARGEJO/) and i’ve seen numerous recording ‘actual-plays’ of people using G+ hangouts to play RP sessions over the net we talked about doing something similar; now life, as it often does, got in the way and we never really got to do anything about it as we were swept up in the chaos of the 2013 Lorien Trust LARP mainline seasion.
Recently I decided that we really should make an attempt at actually pushing forward with a session, partly because i’m keen to experiment more with G+ hangout roleplaying and also because i’m interested in seeing what it’s like tabletopping with people whom i’ve only ever really done LARP or boardgames before (both of which are quite different); so I set up a facebook event and arranged a date (this Sunday evening), but then of course we were left with the question of what do we play?
I have numerous RPGs on the shelves in my room but, given that this is the first TT experience for a couple of the players and that it was our first time at RPing over G+ I wanted something that was simple to pick up, kept the game very dramatic and allowed it to move along reasonably rapidly since we only have about four hours of gaming realistically since most of us have work the next day, I want to cram as much game into those four or so hours as possible. As usual when I want a good game to introduce new-comers to TT RPing i’ve turned to one of my favourite systems, Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) along with a brilliant G+ Fate roller extension (http://www.diceboy.com/).
One of the players is quite new to TT and wants some sort of easy to get into fantasy game because, although new to TT, the LARP that we do is fantasy based and he has experience of lots of fantasy films; this is fine, i’ve already done some consideration of how to adapt FAE to a D&D-esque setting (detailed in previous blog posts). For this game though, i’ve decided to keep things simple (anything not mentioned below is as it is in the core FAE book):
Aspects: In addition to their High Concept and Trouble, players will also have a Race aspect (dwarf, orc, etc) that can be invoked (as normal) whenever they perform an action that fits with the concept of their race (i’ll be keeping it pretty simple and stereotypical for this game, orcs are brutish and violent, dwarves are rigid, stoic craftsmen, etc etc).
Magic: In order to have magic a sorceror must have the Aspect ‘Sorceror’, they must also have a Stunt (or Stunts) that defines their type of magic; for example, a sorceror may have the Stunt ‘Fire magic’ and all of their spells will involved heat or fire in some way. Magic will use the normal action rules as described in FAE (attacking, defending, etc).
Equipment: Unless taken as a Stunt equipment is assumed to be of insufficient quality to make any real difference to the dice rolls, if taken as a Stunt then it can add the normal +2 to an appropriate situation.
Taking inspiration from the recent Dungeon World session that I ran, I intend to use the player character Aspects (and a brief Q&A with the players at the start after character gen) to create a rough map of the world and detail out the major threats/challenges, once we have this i’ll run with what i’ve got and see where it goes from there. Assuming all goes well with the technical side of things then the game will be recorded and uploaded to my Youtube Channel  when we’ve finished the session.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 15: To Strive and not to Yield

Captain Pak gathers the men that he bought with him from the Rod Hant, sturdy space warriors all, whilst Admiral Black musters a group of his men including Oberlieutenant Joergen Borsch of the 1st fighter squadron (nicknamed the ‘Void Krakens’) who wears a flight suit, bolt pistol and power sword; the sound of warning klaxxons blares throughout on ship, as the noise continues the crew begin to head to their posts with practiced efficiency whilst the Captain Pak and Admiral Black’s partys head towards where the alert has been triggered, the central mess room of the ship, stopping only briefly for Pak to leave some of his trusted tech-adepts in the teleportarium, ordering them to keep a lock on the senior officers so that, if they needed to, they could attempt to ‘port the officers out.
“Maybe the demon will eat the food and die?” – Oberlieutenat Joergen Borsch


As they draw closer the smell of blood fills the corridors and a strange humid, oppresive heat hangs over the area, in the distance there is a sound like a cross between a bull lowing and a man screaming; Pak suggests sending in the servo-skull but Admiral Black brushes his suggestion aside, hefts his power sword and charges into the main mess hall. The walls and floors of the mess room are splattered with blood, causing the Admiral to doubt his footing as he enters the chamber; in the centre of the room a large, crimson skinned demonic figure stands astride a pile of bodies and upturned furniture, it grips an obsidian weapon in one of its gore splattered claws. Admiral Black and Navigator Benetec both have a strange sensation that the blade itself is a seperate, hungry entity that cries out for the lives and souls of its victims; whilst the demon is intent on butchering the dying crew at it’s feet Black storms in, vaulting across the table and swinging his power sword through the air, however the tough, demonic hide turns aside most of the blows force, sending sparks cascading through the air. York Benetec runs in after the Admiral, trying not to slide on the blood drenched floor, striking it squarely with his crackling thunder hammer and causing the beast to give rent to an ear-splitting roar.
Still slightly injured from his previous exploits Captain Pak marshals his men around him and leads a coordinated support effort, the clan warriors flooding around the demon and stabbing at it with crude weapons, with the support of Pak’s mechandrite arm lashing out, they swamp the creature hack and stabbing at it. Oberlieutenant Borsch slides into the room and with a deafening boom discharges his bolt pistol, unfortunately missing the head of the beast and blowing a small crater in the floor of the chamber; roaring the demon throws off its attackers and stabs at Captain Pak with it’s hissing hellblade, his men grab their captain and pull him back trying to avoid the strike but the hilt of the blade strikes Pak on the side of his head, shattering the cappilaries in his eye and causing a large contusion to begin forming. The demon swings it’s blade towards Admiral Black who takes the blow on his own power sword sending flaming sparks spiraling through the air (setting fire to some of the furniture), the force of the blow throws the Admiral to the floor, winding him; picking himself up the Admiral gulps a lungfull of recycled air and charges back into the combat, determined not to let this evil creature triumph, swinging his sword he scores a shallow cut down the side of the creature, vile, hissing ichor sprays from the wound.
York Benetec pushes through the debris towards the creature, screaming his defiance of it and bringing down the thunder hammer he inherited from Confessor Cornelius, caving in the rib-cage of the creature, it struggles to stand for a moment, warp fire and bloody ichor leaking from its wound, before exploding in a shower of blood and gore, its deathcry fading in the air.
“FOR THE EMPEROR!” – Navigator York Benetec
Pak checks that there is no further combat or incursions taking place on the Venerus before organising for the mess hall to be quarantined and cleaned up, 
Benetec notices that the creatures sword remains, its blade embedded in the floor of the chamber, and sees that another crewman has also spotted it and is reached his hand out for it; mindful of the dangers of such warp tainted objects and with little time to react Benetec fires his pistol, shooting the crew member dead before his hand has chance to close around the handle of the tainted weapon. Admiral Black and York Benetec sense a distortian of the air around the blade as blood from the slain crew member splatters on the weapon, realising that it could still pose a significant threat Benetec says that he needs the area cleared so that he can banish the foul sword back into the immaterium.
Once the chamber is clear Benetec begins to drain the warp energies from the weapon, syphoning them through his warp eye and allowing them to disperse into the immaterium, as it flickers and fades the deformed Navigator feels a faint echo of the rage and thirst for blood once imbued in the blade; meanwhile Lady Decusis Black has contacted the Admiral from the bridge, she is relieved to hear that her husband is safe and tells him that she never doubted that he would triumph over the chaos creature, she also reports that Tulius is well on the road to recovery.
Oberlieutenant Borsch and Pak begin making plans to visit the, as yet unnamed clan ship, Pak suggests that perhaps Borsch could assume command, in the same manner that he himeself did on the Rod Hant.
“Are you kidding? Have you seen the turning circle of those things? It’s the size of a planet!” – Oberlieutenant Joergen Borsch
Sjomann Amelie is stood on the bridge as Admiral Black arrives there, guarded by an officer (presumably on the instructions of Lady Decusis-Black), he gives orders for the Sjomann to be taken to one of the vacant officers quarters. Two shuttles are prepared to approach the unnamed clan ship, the shuttle piloted by Objerlieutenant Borsch easily reaches the ship first and begins inspecting it for potential weaknesses; they both dock and use their vox systems to contact the ship and arrange to go aboard. The layout of the ship is very similar to the Rod Hant, one of the flanks of the ship is badly damaged but the crew has started to repair it; one of the Imperial troops that was left on the ship approaches looking concerned, he takes them through the ship to one of the weapons bays and they see that all of the crew are kneeling down as though in prayer all facing in the same direction, clasping a weapon to their breasts.
Borsch realises that the primitive clansmen appear to be facing towards where the Venerus is located; Sjomann Amelie says that although not part of this crew and thus not familiar with their rituals it is obviously one of their clan’s religious rites, the trooper points out that all crew members on the ship are doing the same thing, he has no idea what triggered it but it started with the Sjomann of the ship. Slightly worried, Pak contacts one of his servitors aboard the Rod Hant, the servitor in its monotone voice reports no change in activity aboard the vessel; Sjomann Amelie explains that, although her people try and remain above the clan warfare and their traditions, there are numerous deities that they worship and it may be any one of these that the crew are paying homage to. Pak contacts Admiral Black, as he is talking however the crew begin to return to their positions, the ceremony apparently concluded.
On the Venerus, York Benetec senses that the unnamed clan ship is attempting to enter the warp and stumbles into his sensorium chamber just in time to see a bright flash as the clan ship disappears into the warp, he immediately contacts Lord Admiral Black to inform him, the Admiral leaves Lady Decusis-Black, his wife, in charge of the Venerus before heading across to the Rod Hant with a contingent of tech-adepts, he plans to have both ships attempt to track and follow the unnamed ship (that still has Pak and Joergan onboard). Benetec warns that having a group of ships arriving simultaneously via the warp is unlikely, and he doubts the skill of the witch woman.
“There is a problem with this however, its already difficult enough for one navigator to follow a signal correctly, two is extremely difficult and I have no knowledge of the skills of this witch woman” – Navigator York Benetec
“Well, we’ll soon find out, wish me luck” – Lord Admiral Black
“I may see you in a few years Admiral” – York Benetec
Now on the Rod Hant, Admiral Black asks Sjomann Amelie whether she can follow the other ship through the warp, she says that with the appropriate rituals she will be able to follow the Solv Tann (apparently the name of the other ship) through what she calls the realm of the gods; watching the Sjomann begin her rituals, Admiral Black is struck by a strange, almost hypnotic pattern of bones and markings that she lays out around her as part of her ritual. Attempting to puzzle out the pattern the Admiral starts to see some sort of otherworldy pattern or connection between the objects, part of his mind seems to shy away from it, he can feel that the pattern is affecting his psyche and senses the opportunity for great power or destruction in the pattern. Steeling himself against all doubt and hungry for power, Admiral Black attempts to grasp the mind bending pattern laid out in front of him; unseen by the him his body begins a subtle serpentine change, retractable fangs and poison glands beginning to take shape below the skin of his jaw.
Admiral Black wakes up some moments later lying on the floor of the Sjomann’s chamber, from the humming of the engines around him it is obvious that during his convalescence the Rod Hant has entered the warp; both ships head for the Endeavour System but meet with resistance, a form of warp stasis around the system making it more hazardous to navigate there and lengthening the journey time; the Rod Hant and Venerus arrive almost simultaneously in the Endeavour System and quickly conduct scans, they don’t pick up any ships (besides themselves) in the vicinity, they assume that due to the vagaries of the warp that they have arrived before the other clan ship. Sjomann Amelie informs them that although many of the clans live on fleets of roving clan ships some of them live a more traditional planet-bound life on the large moon of Strive, she also explains that when the Sky Warrior returned, Clan Mord left their home amongst the asteroid belts (which they mined for minerals, competing with a clan of scavengers called Clan Kjempe) and went to join him; she explains that the main inhabitants of Strive are called Clan Drod and have a ship in orbit around the moon. Clan Drod are the only clan who refused to side outright with the Sky Warrior (although they didn’t openly rebel), she doesn’t know why but it was something to do with ancient writings preserved from their ancestors. The Sjomann cautions against approaching in ships belonging to another clan but says that they should be able to get hospitallity from them.
Admiral Black decides to visit the planet in a shuttle, taking the Sjomann and a small party with him, ordering the ships to wait for them, concealed in the asteroid fields of the system.
Oberlieutenant Borsch arrives on the bridge of the Solv Tann, he sees a hulking figure in the command chair barking orders in a growled primitive language; Borsch addresses him and is horrifed to see that the captain seems to have a twisted houndlike head, instinctively he fires his bolt pistol, punching a hole through the captain who is dead before his body hits the floor.
“Is there anyone else having a problem with surrendering?” – Oberlieutent Borsch
Borsch spots one other obvious mutant, a figure with ragged bat wings standing at one of the consoles, he kicks the Captains corpse out of the chair and sits down beckoning the winged figure over and asking him about their destination, the ragged figure replies “We return to our home system. Sjomann say it takes 35 Sjtel-links.” Captain Pak arrives on the bridge just as this is going on and, due to his greater knowledge of the clansmen, is able to estimate that 35 Sjtel-links is about 50 Imperial Days; frustrated Borsch puts another round in the old captains head for good measure.
On the moon of Strive, Admiral Blacks guncutter breaks through the slightly thin atmosphere of the massive moon; they locate a small valley amongst the monstly mountainous terrain, shielded by coniferous trees, about twenty miles away from a fairly large settlement. Landing they camouflage the guncutter whilst Admiral Black has the tech-adepts uncouple the Rhino APC from the ship and, with a churning of dirt, they begin heading toward the settlement.
“I wonder if this is where that Imperial Missionary went?” – Admiral Black
“Cornelius knew about that sort of thing and he’s dead, perhaps I should ask his thunder hammer?” – Navigator York Benetec
There is a permanent wooden city surrounded by a sea of hide tents, and the odd loose stonework building forming a strange melange of different building styles in the distance; as the APC approached one of the tech-adepts picks up an imperial power signature 50km to the west, Admiral Black orders them to head towards it and eventually they approach an old fashioned Imperial Shuttle, the outside of it bears the iconography of the Ecclesiarchy. Next to the shuttle are a couple of lean-tos that have been fabricated with materials of Imperial manufacture, as they approach a number of the primitive clans-folk start pointing excitedly and warily at the Rhino APC; as the Rhino pulls to a halt, an excited young native girl leads on old man wearing Imperial priest robes from one of the lean-tos, he’s a little doddery on his feet but he has a serene look to his face, he leans heavily on a gnarled walking stick with an iron skull and Imperial Aquila mounted atop it. The man introduces himself as Deacon Kiril.
“It’s good to see honest Imperial citizens in our little system” – Deacon Kiril
Admiral Black mentions Confessor Cornelius and Deacon Kiril is saddened to hear that Cornelius has died, the news hitting him heavily and forcing him to sit down on a cargo crate; in response to the Deacons queries the Admiral omits some of the details of Cornelius’ death but says that he died during a mutiny caused by the evil of a demon that penetrated the Venerus’ Gellar field. Deacon Kiril talks about the start that both he and his junior priests have begun bringing the clansmen back into the Emperor’s light, he says that it may even be possible that they are descendants of lost Imperial explorers.
“At my age, I believe it is possible I may never leave this world and our work may not be completed in my lifetime, but it is enough to know that we have started these people down the road to their own redemption” – Deacon Kiril
Kiril offers hospitallity to Admiral Black’s party, the Admiral accepts and explains that they are waiting for a ship that absconded into the warp with two of his crew, Sjomann Amelie explains that it was Clan Mord who absconded with the crew; the Deacon looks trouble and says that he’s heard some false religious figure has recently risen and has corrupted some of the tribes furthest from the Emperor. Although he hasn’t been off world to find out more of this, apparently a representative from this ‘Sky Warrior’ attempted to persuade the chief of Clan Drod to rally to their banner although the clan chief does not seem interested; apparently the more barbarous clans have flocked to the Sky Warriors banner.
Deacon Kiril shares a thick, hearty broth with the Admiral’s party, simple but nourishing fare and tells them that the planet is roamed by large mammoths that are hunted by the clansmen for their pelts, tusks and meat; there were once some great predators on the planet (including the dreaded Nak-tar) but the early clansmen hunted them to extinction either for food or as part of their barbaric coming of age rituals. Over the course of the next 20 days the Deacon explains that the clansmen build a lot of their ships in space, mostly in the asteroid belts and clusters throughout the system and that the chief of Clan Drod currently rules the planet, his clan being one of the few to maintain a permanent planetary presence; he believes that the religion of the clansmen is a primitive form of Emperor worship and agrees to arrange a meeting within the month between the clan chief and the Admiral.
Clan Drod have not come out in open opposition to the Sky Warrior (apparently because of some ancient writings that they have preserved from their ancestors) since if the other clans were to unite against Clan Drod (even though they are a large clan) they wouldn’t stand a chance; but he has made it clear that he is not interested.
“That Clan Drod has rejected this heresy speaks well of their reformation” – Navigator York Benetec
“It is my hopes that from the tiny acorns of this act the mighty oaks of righteousness my grow and that these people can be shepherded back to the Emperor, I fear the same may not be said of the other clans” – Deacon Kiril
One the Solv Tann, Borsch has discovered that Mikhil the winged is the first mate; Captain Pak asks him about the ceremony that they conducted shortly before entering the warp and the mutated crew member explains that the Sjomann had sensed the will of their patron deity Slaktin being made known in the world and they were offering him homage, he says that they faced the direction of where their God had entered the world and that his own wings were a blessing from the warrior God Slaktin, few aboard are worthy enough to carry such blessings. Oberlieutenant Borsch convinces Mikhil that he would like to assess the mightiest warriors and plans to gather all of those bearing the gifts of Slaktin in the cargo bay (actually he plans to slay the mutated crew).
Captain Pak begins to attempt to gain trust amongst the Clansmen onboard the Solv Tann, using his position as new Captain of the Rod Hant as leverage with the primitive crew; unlike the crew of the Rod Hant who accepted the leadership of Pak, the Oberlieutenant is forced to fight off challengers for his position as new Captain almost dailt, he is forced to kill about 15 members of the crew during the course of the challenges. As a method of trying to discourage this Borsch has the severed heads of his kills mounted on the back of the command chair. 
During the journey his sleep is troubled by dreams of conquest and blood, but he turns away from the dreams since he feels himself in danger of corruption as he takes the power of these others; he needs no-one else’s power or approval, only his own.
Many days later, on the moon of Strive, York Benetec wakes with a start when he receives an astropathic vision of the Solv Tann from the psychics aboard the Venerus.
“The other vessel has arrived.” – York Benetec
Under orders from Admiral Black Benetec transmits a vision to the astropaths on the Venerus showing their Imperial soldiers storming the Solv Tann and detaining the crew; in response to this the Venerus moves towards the Solv Tann, reinforcing the position of Borsch and Pak. Borsch orders the Sjomann to be bought to the bridge so that he cannot attempt to take the ship into the warp again, when he arrives the Sjomann is revealed to be a hulking brute of a man covered in blue tattoos with a top-knot, he aggressively demands to know why he has been bought to the bridge. Mikhil introduces the huge figure as Sjomann Nikolai; allowing Nikolai to see the severed heads of the captaincy challengers Oberlieutenant Borsch orders the Sjomann not to take the ship back into the warp without his instructions and then dismisses him.
Pak and Borsch are contacted by Lady Decusis-Black (aboard the Venerus) who asks them to join her onboard the larger vessel where she tells them about the Admiral’s current whereabouts, the two men take a shuttle and a compliment of crew down to the moon of Strive to join Admiral Black and his party.

FATE: Loving Scenic Aspects

I’m currently in the process of writing up the actual-play report of my last Warhammer 40,000 roleplay game session run using the FATE rules system; it has been my intent to gradually introduce the concepts of the new rules system to my players so that we can all become comfortable with it and ease ourselves into the FATE system. Last session I began to introduce the concept of applying Aspects to scenes and other areas rather than just themselves and antagonists.
Aspects, for those of you who may not be aware are codified story elements that can be applied to almost anything in a game using the FATE rules system; Aspects are always true and can be used (invoked) in conjunction with FATE points to gain a bonus (normally a +2 or re-roll of a particular dice roll) or can be compelled by someone else in order to provide a FATE point in return for accepting a complication. Consequences of injury and stress are also represented using Aspects.
For example:
I might spend a FATE point and say “Because I am the best swordsman in the known world I am easily able to defeat my opponent in the duel” – this is an example of invoking; I would pay a FATE point and get +2/a re-roll to my fighting roll.
Someone (either the GM or another player) might say “However, because you are the best swordsman in the known world someone here has heard of your reputation and intends to best you” – this is an example of compelling, if I accepted the consequence then it would play out and i’d get a fate point, otherwise i’d have to pay one to have this not take place.
In the last session of my Rogue Trader game the session began with the players taking on a Bloodletter, a demon of Khorne, that had materialised on their ship and was slaughtering their crew in the mess halls of the vessel; during the combat a couple of the players were injured and the mess hall floor was described as slick and slippery with blood, I was quite pleased how easily the players adapted to using this scenic Aspect and later on when one of the player characters dealt a cutting blow to the demon, spraying its burning blood over the upturned furniture that also became an Aspect.
If scenic Aspects weren’t included in the game I think that there would be a danger of players just continually using the same Aspects from their character sheets all the time and it becoming quite repetitive, however, the scenic Aspects, in addition to adding another layer of detail and description to unfolding scenes, they also encourage players to behave more dramatically. Whether this is a character using a blood slick floor to slide into a combat, a man trying to force an enemy into a burning pile of furniture or any number of other possibilities, I think this can only be a good thing.

God Machine Chronicle – The World According to Maggy Pike : Part Two

IC blog of second God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.
After last night’s fun and games I had planned for a nice quiet day in the house with Luna. As the phones are still out from the Arctic deciding to try to move its boarders to England I guessed that I wouldn’t be getting much in the way of business either so the day would be spent checking the plants, harvesting, drying and bagging. No. 
It started out promising; I got up, made breakfast- a smoke and a cup of tea, fed the dog, checked the plants, bit cooler than yesterday, I guess there was more snow so will have to start thinking of bringing more lamps in.
Started to weigh and bag when there was a frantic knock at the door, I pocketed then bagged up the stuff and swept the rest into a bin bag and stuffed it under the sofa; all the while this person’s knocking was getting more and more frantic. Looking through the key hole I see the youngest of the Lung’s looking frantic so after last night I opened the door to let her in.
As soon as I open the door she starts waving a roll of cash at me tied up with string, now it can’t be a Christmas present as we don’t know each other well enough to be exchanging that kind of a gift; looking at it, there was roughly 500 quid there and for her safety I pull her through the door, shutting it behind her. She starts to talk at me in Chinese, now I know the language to the extent where I can say hello, thank you and goodbye but I had no clue what she was saying so taking a wild guess I pull out a 10 bag and offer it to her; nope not that then, she looked at me puzzled for a moment then starts talking again. 
I am totally befuddled at this point and try small words, “Follow you?”
Bingo, she pauses for a moment while she works out what I have said and nods.
Now I know that the woman opposite speaks Chinese as she was interpreting last night but I also know that she was working this morning (some sort of Resident’s Association meeting or something) so there was no point knocking to see if she could help so it was just me and Su-ling. She is still talking at me as we walk down the stairs but I have no idea where I am going or what I am going to see when I get there; she is looking more frantic when Brian walks round the corner. I have never wanted to talk to him so much since I met him.
I know he works for Joe, Smokey to most people but according to him I am not most people, I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not; 
I explain what has happened and he tries the old English holiday fail safe that has made locals cover their ears and cower for generations, he speaks loudly and slowly at her. Now I could have tried that but we all know that it doesn’t work and she just waves the roll of cash under his nose. Brian takes it off her and counts out 500 quid, right there in the middle of the corridor. Subtle this man is not.
After announcing to the world in general that there is 500 in cash he pockets it in front of her; I hope that this is a clumsy sign of keeping it safe, she looks at me and just pulls at my sleeve to continue our decent into the rabbit hole. As we enter the lobby (ha! It’s a pair of double doors that shield the stairs from the outside world but I really can’t think of another name for it) I realise that we are going back to the Chinese take-away. I am starting to panic now, if she wants me to check on her dad then we need Catia for this,  she’s is the nurse after all, all i’ve got is basic first aid (and a bit of chemistry). There is a figure in the door way looking like he’s trying to enjoy a quiet smoke, it’s Joe.
I’ve worked for him for a while now but over the last 24 hours I have spoken to him more than I think he would like; I ask if he speaks Chinese, hope must have been radiating off me like the sun at this point but it turned out he also knows the extent of the menu from the local takeaway; I really feel like I should be taking lessons soon. Su-ling tugs on my sleeve again, a little harder this time so I nod and leave the lads to it, hoping they will follow. Not for any help from the looks of it but sometimes it helps to spread the confusion.
She leads us into the kitchen of the take-away and points to the freezer; all of us hesitate, I did not see this myself but the lads told me this is where they found the frozen cat that defrosted at mine and I swear was still part catsickle when it sauntered out the door. Brian, being Brian is the first to pull himself together and opens the chest freezer. Cautiously we, not so happy three, peer into the frosty depths to be greeted by the sight of a frozen bin bag; looking closer the shape of the bag isn’t a lump of something but more cylindrical. Brian, who for reasons that will become clear later seems to have no sense of self-preservation AT ALL reaches in and pulls out the bag, he looks in and pulls out rolled up sheets of paper secured with elastic bands.
While he unrolls one of the tubes I ask Su-ling if anyone else is in the house that can explain what she is so upset about, she vanishes into another room and re-appears with her older sister who looks just as confused as the rest of us, “Um, hello?” she says slowly.
I explain, again, why we are here and she turns to her sister and there is a frantic conversation. Looking a little annoyed at her sibling she explains that the same man who paid her father to store the invincible feline came banging on the back door during the night, he asked her to hide said bin bag and pushed a roll of notes into her hand.
“Brian is looking after it for her, I thought it was a little dangerous for her to be waving it around” I interrupt. Let’s see what happens. Slightly to my surprise he nods and pulls out the cash and hands it to Su-ling.
Her sister takes it off her and continues, “I have been tending to father since you kindly saved him, my sister didn’t want to disturb him so took the money and knowing that father had done this before she just did the same.”
I look over to the lads who have closed the lid and were now using it as a crude table; the rolls of paper seem to be blue-prints of our building with tiny holes that could be pinpricks highlighted in red, a form of spider web in the same red ink linking places together and there were also crude stars in black ink scrawled over certain parts of the block. Two on the Thirteenth floor, flats 1313 and one that is so covered in red ink it is hard to decipher.  One on the first floor flat 113 and one at the bus stop-oh look route 13! Why do I think it isn’t going to be lucky for us?
They explained that the man with the tin foil hat- Miles I think his name was, had been almost having an episode trying to tell them that something was happening, he said that he had seen cats that couldn’t die.
 
Yeah it’s called reincarnation, you generally have to go back to the start and try again but…”That’s not what you mean is it?” I say to the lads.
“No,” Joe says simply “he says he has seen them get hit by lorries and get up fine.”
 
I look at Brian who nods his head in agreement.
“He did say if we go back up to him he can show us what he means,” continued Brian said looking at Joe.
“Well now is as good a time as any” Joe replies.
“Wanna join us?” He asks looking at me.
I don’t think this is a good idea to be honest, a man who sounds like he is running beyond the realms of sanity and still accelerating may not want to speak freely in front of a stranger. I don’t have time to say this as I am whisked off to the sixth floor to talk to Captain Tin foil.
What answers the door is nothing I have been prepared for, a well-scrubbed man in a shirt and a woollen jumper; he seems to recognise Brian and Joe and begins apologising for his behaviour 16 hours ago. We go inside and the place is clean, I mean really clean, I mean show room clean with nothing out of place, the boys seem a little taken aback by this while the reformed Miles continues to apologise for his ranting, scaring the community and general craziness.
“What about what you wanted to show us?” Brian asked waving the blue prints at him.
“Whatever I said before, I was not myself” Miles says continuing to defend himself.
“What about the cats…?” Brian continues, in his ‘it was you wot done it, own up’ form of interrogation.
There is a strange noise coming from somewhere, it reminds me of something I haven’t heard since childhood; my father was a Chemistry Professor and one of his oddities was to wear a waistcoat and a pocket watch. Every now and again he would conduct his little ceremony of winding the watch. It would start with him taking it out, staring at it for a few seconds, holding it up to his ear, shaking it, holding it up to his ear again as if he were waiting for the mysteries of the universe to reveal themselves, huffing loudly and he would then begin to wind.
The noise I heard in Mile’s flat was a little like the noise of the cogs grinding and the spring being tightened; I looked around the room, expecting to see some form of clock when it stopped. Not in the way a clock winds down but stopped dead.
There it is again.
For some reason I look at Miles, he is paused in mid-conversation about him having paranoid schizophrenia and luckily finding someone who had the same mediation as him (someone with a stock pile) and persuading this total stranger of letting him have some until he can get to the doctors….well that certainly was convenient. Brian asks what medication Miles is on, hold on, wait, what? Brian has asked to see proof that the poor man is tormented by his own mind.
He takes out a box; it has a white sticker with the scientific name and all the stuff you usually see on a box from the chemists; and that’s when I realise that the noise is coming from him, as he pauses the mechanical whirring sound is audible then it cuts and Miles begins to speak. I stand there for a moment thinking perhaps i’m imagining it and searching for a clock. Brian, I am sure, is trying to bring the poor man to the point of another episode by arguing with him about paint, yes paint and Joe keeps asking how he got DFS to deliver a sofa in the snow.
 
Joe is quiet for a second as Brian comes in for a second wave of paint questions so I take a chance and ask Joe if his watch is a wind up, he looks at me slightly taken aback for a moment then says casually “Yeah, it’s an Omega,” pointing to his wrist.
“No, I mean do you need to wind it?” 
Again he looks at me wondering where this conversation is going to, “Nah its perpetual motion.” He seems quite proud of that fact.
“Then what’s that noise?”
Joe looks at me for the third time, “How much have you smoked?”
‘You and him are arguing with him about decorating shit and you are asking ME about being off me tree?’ I scream so loudly in my head that I am sure they should have heard it. 
“Only one but I will be rolling the mother of all of them after this” I reply; I need to talk to Brian. 
I seem to have missed the last part of the conversation as Miles is looking at me with a HELP ME! plea on his face.
“Can I see the tin of paint miles?” says Brian
“What, why?”
“He’s decorating and hates the smell,” Joe answers.
“Yeah, sure it’s under the sink.”
Brian goes on the hunt and presumably finding nothing more than a tin of emulsion he sits down again, although thinking back on this was it really only just a tin of paint, no really bear with me on this.
Using this point of confusion I do what all English people do in a point of crisis, “Who wants tea?”
Well that seemed to have worked, I pause and say “Brian, come and give me a hand.”
Brian follows me into the kitchen and while very loudly making tea and a glass of water for Miles on account of some form of gastric thing I tell him about the noise; we return wile Joe is having a go at getting information, it’s not going well and I have to wonder how he got so high up in his line of business.
The noise is there again. I nod to Brian and point to my ear; he listens and then…YES he hears it too!
I can see that a conversation with these two is beginning to exceed the limits of Miles’ medication, hell I might even ask for one at this rate. Brian sees it too and suggests that he takes his pills, giving them back to him. Miles, relief pouring off him like steam, grabs the box of tablets and takes them with the glass of water.
I watch, half expecting to see steam coming out of his ears or his neck blowing off on a spring like in the cartoons when a robot hits water.
“YOU ARE NOT MILES!” Joe decides to shout. Oh well done Captain Clever now the clockwork men know we’re on to them. Does he never watch Dr Who?
Brian also having the subtly of a rutting rhino says just about word for word what I just thought and now Miles looks as though he is about to have an aneurism; we make our excuses and turn to leave.
Joe hangs back and then loud enough so we can hear it on the landing he shouts “YOU’RE NOT MILES!”
Ah ha! Now it’s my turn for the look.
“You know when you’re holding a brick?” What the fuck! I am really struggling to hold on here. 
“Actually no, not recently” is all I can manage before sitting down to roll. I give up, frozen cats, mysterious blue prints, clockwork men and now bricks. But wait it gets better.
“I shook his hand and it didn’t feel right” Joe continued “I added a bit of hard man (not sure if I heard that bit right to be honest) pressure to the shake and it was like squeezing a breeze block. He is not Miles.”
“What if the people that the real Miles said was after him, actually got to him and somehow brainwashed him?” Brian asked. I am glad I am building a smoke at this point as I am having trouble keeping up.
“I suggest we take a look at what the real Miles wanted to show us.” he continued indicating to the blue prints, still in his hands.
“I need to take the dog out first; I’ll have a look at the bus stop.” I said as I tucked the cone into one side of my mouth
“So we’ll take the first floor” Brian replies and for now we go our separate ways. 
It seemed a good idea at the time.
Stepping outside me and Luna get Siberia in the face; luckily enough around the block isn’t so bad, Luna has a chance to run around, have a bit of a sniff and do what dogs do before we venture further out. Struggling through the snow, now up to my waist and Luna now trying her hand at pot holing, we get to the gate. After persuading the gate to open enough to let us through we manage to get onto the street. Looking down all I can see is a nose and decided to come back again after taking her home before her extremities begin to freeze, bet she’s glad she isn’t a boy.
I reach the 1st floor when what I can only describe as a sonic boom travels along the corridor and scares the crap out of the two of us; after my ears stop ringing and I have done a quick check to see that I am still alive, I still have all my appendages and that the dog is still alive and intact I hear the Northern tones of Brian and the quieter tones of Joe arguing about who blew the bloody doors off I decided to take Luna back home for her own safety.
Now dog-less I return to the gate outside the block and manage to fight my way to the bus stop.
And suddenly fall through a void. It was like someone had taken a knife and cut out the middle of a cake, the bus stop and possibly a meter square all around it there is no snow. Not only that but I was starting to get uncomfortably warm in my winter woollies and would have been quite happy to remove a few layers.
I pull out my phone and take pictures, no-one would believe a stoner when she says it was spring at bus stop 13; I also stick my arm out and take a couple more photos to prove that it is still snowing all around.
Walking up to the first floor it doesn’t take me long to locate the boys and when I arrive at apartment 113 I see a flat, unoccupied, dust sheets everywhere and at one end of the room Brian and Joe staring at an oval mirror almost the size of the wall. Now for the crazy part, yup the stuff before was confusing but this shit is just bat shit crazy.
Brian is standing there with his arm sticking into the mirror up to his elbow and Joe has his arms wrapped around Brian.
“…I could get turned on by this” Did Brian actually say that?!
“Do what you want it’s just business” Joe replied.
Looking at the mirror I see the reverse image of the room, yep all good but we are not there, Brian arm comes back out with the surface rippling like mercury. Pulling his phone out his pocket and takes some pictures from the other side, there is nothing in the mirror-room.
 
He sticks his head through then half of his body and to be honest I am half expecting a 13 Ghosts moment where he gets cut in half, but he emerges unharmed; him and Joe begin to argue whether going in or not is a good thing when a thought strikes me. Out of morbid curiosity I wander over to the fridge and open the door as Brian walks out the room with a determined expression.
All there is in there is a cheese sandwich that could very probably hold the cure for cancer in the fungus growing on it.
“Nope, no Zuul” I shout. Just thought I’d check.
Brian re-enters tying the metal end of a fire hose round his middle.
Squeak, squeak, slap, squeak. 
“Oh crap it’s the cleaner,” I hiss.
“Oh let me shut the door, oh wait I can’t,” Brian says sarcastically to Joe.
“Quick, hide” he continues and dives into the mirror with a number of choice swear words following behind him; I am quite proud of this next move, I push all the gas rings of the cooker and let the gas escape just long enough to get the smell and run out into the corridor.
“Quick, quick please help!”
The surely eastern European man stops pushing the wheeled metal water container with his mop and stares at me.
“I clean.” 
“Please you have to help there has been a gas leak in one of the flats.”
“I clean,” He repeats 
“You don’t understand a word I am saying do you?”
“I clean,” and just to make sure I get the message he slops the soaking dirty mop onto the floor and pushes it about a bit.
I give up and go back to the flat with the cleaner going back where he came from; I am finding a dust sheet to put over the door when Brian comes back through the mirror and he is failing to explain what he had just seen when there is a loud crash from behind us, spinning round we see that the real world sofa is laying on its side.
“I did that!” Brian announces proudly.
I was about to ask how when he continues to say “I moved the sofa on the other side before I came back out. Wait look,” and he vanishes back through the looking glass.
After about 15 minutes he pops back again trying to tell us that the mirror world is like a film set, all light weight and cardboard, this is when the cleaner appears in the door way shouting that we should not be here. Joe and I start arguing with him about selective English and gas leaks when Brian suggests that it is a good idea to leave.
Seeing how spooked he is we decide to go.
Heading up to the 13th floor we find flat 1313, one of the 2 flats marked with an asterisk on the blueprint map, Joe asks if I’d like to knock.
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Well Brian knocked on Miles door and I (ahem) knocked on the empty flat door so…”
“Oh it’s my turn. Yay!”
Another Eastern European voice shouts through the door “Yes, what do you want?” 
What I wanted was for there to be no-one in, but I reply “Umm, building inspectors?”
“You lie, there are no building inspectors here. Who are you really?”
Bugger. “There has been a gas leak” Joe shouts up. Oh nicking my ideas now are we?
“There has been no gas leak.”
“Yes there has, on the first floor”
“Then it is no business of mine.”
“The cleaner sent us up.”
This seemed to get a reaction, after another door full of locks he opens enough to see us, I recognise some of the tattoos on the elderly gentleman’s visible skin. Then came my second good idea.
 
“Bartek?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Erm, the older man with the walking stick?”
“Jakub?”
“Yeah him, he said you might want to start up a bit of business?” I pull a bag out of my pocket and show it to him in my cupped hand. This seems to work and he lets us into his flat. Not much to report on this one, basic set up with no mirror in site; I start talking shop with Bartek while with a lot more stealth than he has shown previously Brian starts dropping pound coins about and looking under things. In the middle of our little chat Bartek yells out to Brian to leave the coin that has conveniently rolled under a table and gives him another out of his pocket.
 
Okay. We all look at each other.
I manage to get him out of the room long enough for Brian to take a look and putting his hand under the table he nods, his arse has just hits the seat when Bartek comes in carrying a black leather briefcase. Laying it on the table he snaps open the clasps and inside is stacks of cash, possibly enough to choke a donkey. Joe concludes with Bartek, promising him more business in the future and as Brian was unable to investigate further we continue to the next flat. The centre of the red web.
Outside the door is full of cats, dozens of pairs of eyes watching us approach, oh yay a crazy cat lady, just to top it all off.
Brian knocks on the door and a frail old voice answers, “Yes, who is it?”
“It’s the Resident’s Association members, love. We are investigating reports of disappearing cats. Can we come in?”
“Oh yes, of course. It’s not locked.”
The smell was phenomenal. Cat. Very much the smell of cat, piss, shit, musk, rotting meat, desiccated fish and in that nasal harmony a top note of old lady smell, it was like walking into a patio door. The owner of the voice is an old woman with cataract clouded eyes, she stares right through us as he tells us that she looks after the cats, who under advice of a caretaker, the management bought in to deal with the vermin problem.
Brian, still using the missing cats as an excuse to look for around, presumably for another mirror manages to take a look around the flat, while he is investigating I ask the old lady if she is warm enough and if she had eaten lately. Contrary to what my hours tell me she answers, “Oh yes a few hours ago dear.”
While I am trying to think of something else to ask her Brian comes in white as a sheet and gestures to one hand grasped tightly in the other; uncovering his hand he reveals two deep puncture marks dripping blood. He gestures with a nod of his head for us to leave, as we head out the voice of the crazy old cat lady follows us, “It was nice to have company, I do hope your friend is alright.”  
How did she know that? Is she the Master using the mirrors in the cats’ eyes to see what’s going on? Am I going to wake up in a snug white coat strapped to a bed with rubber wall paper?
I feel like I am in an episode of Dr Who and still waiting for him to arrive and save the day.

D&D/Pathfinder style FATE hack – Races and Skills

Following on from my last blog post about a D&D style hack for the FAE system (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/d-style-fate-hack-could-classes-be-used.html) where I pondered the idea of using class style descriptors as Approaches for a D&D-esque FAE game this post addresses my thoughts on character races (although species would be a more accurate term) and skills in the game.
This post builds on the idea that the six Approaches would be something along the lines of:
  1. Warrior – rolled for attacking or defending from attack using physical means, taking care of armour, working out battle-tactics, recognising ambushes and initiative order in combat.
  2. Rogue – sleight of hand, stealing things, breaking and entering, deception and also shmoozing and general social actions.
  3. Spellcaster – casting spells (obviously), working out what spells other people were casting, crafting magic items, examining magic items, feats of prestigitation, etc.
  4. Priest – interacting with church/holy order members, researching/recalling information about gods and their followers, making blessings, etc.
  5. Ranger – covers wilderness survival and skills.

Race

The term ‘race’ in D&D tends to actually refer to a different species (ie. orcs, dwarves, elves) all that generally seem not to share a common ancestry, but never-the-less the term race has been widely used in RPGs since the early days. In this hack I would make the characters race a specific Aspect that can be invoked or compelled under specific circumstances.
Some examples using the most common D&D races are listed below:
  • Dwarves – hardy and skill craftsmen with a very traditional outlook.
    • May be invoked when: Calling upon the wisdom of ancient traditions, craft rolls related to stone or metal work, fighting with a hammer, finding your way underground, perception rolls in darkness, appraising gems, stone or metal work.
    • May be compelled when: New innovations or technology are at odds with traditions, faced by their ancient greenskin enemies, when the distrust between dwarves and elves bubbles to the surface, when a dwarves appreciation for precious stones may turn into greed.
  • Elves – graceful and beautiful creatures at peace with the natural world and with magic singing in their blood.
    • May be invoked when: Using magic, moving unseen or finding sustenance/tracking in the wilderness, social interactions with people awed by the elves beauty, using a bow, perception rolls in dimly lit conditions.
    • May be compelled when: Vanity causes them to dismiss the opinions and thoughts of ‘lesser’ races, when the distrust between elves and dwarves threatens to bubble to the surface.
  • Orcs – strong and stubborn creatures raised in a brutal martial tradition.
    • May be invoked when: Assessing the strength/value of armour and weapons, facing down another in a one-on-one combat, perception tests in the dark, tests of raw strength.
    • May be compelled when: An orcs bloodlust overcomes their reason, they are shunned by ‘civilised’ races.
  • Halflings – Clever and capable opportunists with a mischievous streak.
    • May be invoked when: Small size allows them to slip from an opponents grasps, looking harmless allows them to evade notice, tests of manual dexterity.
    • May be compelled when: A halfling cannot resist the urge to cause mischief, a halflings small stature and lower strength causes them problems.
At the moment I would having the following Aspects on the D&D-style hack character sheet.

  • High Concept
  • Trouble
  • Race
  • +additional general Aspects
I think the beauty of having the race as an Aspect (and one of my favourite parts of the FAE/FATE system) is that it is tremendously simple (requiring no real modification of stats), uses the existing mechanics of the game and all the players and GM have to remember is what compels and invokes can be used against racial Aspects; the Aspect Race also encourages the constant using and flowing of FATE points that is at the heart of the system.
Skills

This is something I hashed out in my Cthulhu-FAE hack, instead of bringing in a big list of appropriate skills (which is essentially trying to turn FAE into FATE core, something i’m keen to avoid since I love FAE’s simplicity) skill groups can be represented by suggesting Stunts that provide bonuses in applicable situations.
Looking at the AD&D 2nd edition Weapon and Non-weapon Proficiency model, a few suggestions are made below:
Weapon proficiencies
  • Master of the [insert name of weapon]: The player receives a +2 bonus to rolls made using the [weapon] (for example: A ‘Master of the Sword’ attacking with a short sword would gain the +2).
  • Shield Mastery: The player receives a +2 to their defence rolls when using a shield.
Non-weapon proficiencies
  • Escape Artist: +2 when escaping bonds.
  • Herbalist: +2 to rolls to analyse/use herbs.
  • Professional Lock-pick: +2 to pick locks.

As you can see i’ve not yet put up any rules concerning weapons or armour, my current thought is to leave them nebulous so that they don’t needlessly complicate the system; anyone may have appropriate equipment but only gain a benefit if they have an appropriate Stunt or Aspect.
Likewise with Non-weapon Proficiency Stunts, pretty much any skill from D&D3.5 could be turned into a Stunt just by it granting a +2 in the appropriate field of study or endeavour.