Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heavy Future: Bounty Hunters

One of the things I want to include in Heavy Future is a Bounty Hunter class- I decided to build my Bounty Hunter as a Ranger archetype, and merge the Pathfinder and D20 Modern rules in the same way I did for Black Tokyo Unlimited.

My Bounty Hunter is a gun-focused version of the Skirmisher archetype, a non-magical ranger who has some interesting Intimidation-based and detective type skills. He's got a great, gritty feel with a lot of implied attitude and roleplaying potential. I may be adding to this, and supporting this archetype with various feats and gear, but here's a preview of Heavy Future's Bounty Hunter.

The Bounty Hunter
Ranger Archetype
            Bounty Hunters can criss-cross half the galaxy, find their target in some backwater shit hole, and either bring him back to the client alive or dead, as the job demands. Bounty hunters are part detective, part professional kidnapper, part gunthug, and part freelance cop, only they’re usually just a few degrees more honest than any member of those professions. Bounty hunters can’t be squeamish about the jobs they take- the competition for big bounties is too fierce, and the paydays are too tempting. Likewise, Bounty Hunters don’t usually get the luxury of picking who they work for. Bounty Hunters are as apt to take a job brining an innocent kid to a Space Mafioso don for torture and execution as they are to earn their creds capturing wanted criminals. In fact, the Space Mafia usually pays better than the law…..

            Weapon Proficiencies
            Bounty Hunter Rangers gain Personal Firearms Proficiency and Advanced Fire Arms Proficiency as bonus feats.

            Bounty Hunter Rangers add Drive and Pilot to their list of class skills.

            Cold Stare (EX)
            Bounty Hunters are dead-eyed sociopaths, even the kindest of them. The worst are monsters from a chase-nightmare wearing body armor and carrying blasters. Bounty Hunters may choose to make an Intimidate check to demoralize a single adversary each round as a swift action.

            As a standard action, the Bounty Hunter can clearly identify himself and his current quarry (the creature he has a current bounty on) and attempt to demoralize the quarry. If this Intimidate check is successful, the quarry becomes panicked rather than shaken, as is typical for demoralized creatures.

            Cold Stare replaces Wild Empathy.

            Bounty Hunting Tactics (EX)
            At 5th level, the Bounty Hunter learns Bounty Hunting Tactics, which typically grant a boon or bonus to the Bounty Hunter or hinder his targets. At 5th level, the ranger learns one trick, selected from the list below. At 7th level, and every two levels thereafter, he learns another trick. A ranger can use these tricks a total number of times per day equal to 1/2 his ranger level + his Wisdom modifier. Tactics are usually swift actions, but sometimes move or free actions that modify a standard action, usually an attack action. Once a trick is chosen, it can't be retrained. A ranger cannot select an individual tactic more than once. This ability replaces the ranger's spells class feature.

Bounty Hunter rangers do not gain any spells or spellcasting ability, do not have a caster level, and cannot use spell trigger and spell completion magic items. As Bounty Hunting Tricks are a variation on the “hunter’s tricks” provided by the Skirmisher ranger archetype, the GM may allow you to select skirmisher tricks as variant class abilities.
The following is a list of hunter tricks and their effects.

Aiding Attack (Ex): The ranger can use this trick as a free action when he hits a creature with an attack. The next ally who makes an attack against the target creature before the start of the ranger's next turn gains a +2 circumstance bonus on that attack roll.

            Back Hand (EX): You activate this tactic as part of an unarmed strike. If the attack is successful, your target is knocked prone.

            Blaster Burn (EX): The ranger can activate this trick as a free action before making a ranged attack roll that would inflict energy damage. If the attack is successful, the target suffers an additional 1d4 points of energy damage of same type as the initial attack per round for the next two rounds.

Catfall (Ex): The ranger can use this trick as an immediate action when he falls 20 or more feet, ignoring the first 20 feet of the fall when calculating the falling damage. If the ranger takes no damage from the fall, he does not fall prone.

Casual Violence (EX): As a free action as part of a missed melee attack, the Bounty Hunter inflicts a number of points of damage (slashing, piercing or bludgeoning, at the Bounty Hunter’s option) equal to his ranger level to the missed attack’s target. 

            Cold Will (EX): Invoking this ability as a swift action, the ranger becomes immune to mind affecting abilities for one round.

Distracting Attack (EX): The ranger can use this trick as a free action before he makes an attack. If the attack hits, the target takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls for 1 round.

Dying Declaration (EX): As a full round action, the Bounty Hunter can viciously interrogate a creature reduced to 0 HP or fewer but not completely destroyed (a victim killed by a gunshot to the chest, but not one atomized by an explosion). The dying creature will croak out a short (5 words at most)phrase providing some insight to one of the Bounty Hunter’s current targets, such as the target’s current or near future location, the target’s goals, weaknesses, capabilities, weapons, ect.

            Fist Full of Gun (EX): The ranger can use this tactic as a free action when he hits with a ranged attack. Any damage dice that come up as either the highest or second (ex: 7-8 on D8 or 9-10 on D10) highest possible result are rerolled; dice can be rerolled multiple times if they continue to roll high.

            Gut Shot (EX): The ranger can use this tactic as a free action when he hits with a ranged attack. The target is sickened for one round and suffers Bleed 2 for 1d4 rounds.

Hobbling Attack (EX): The ranger can use this trick as a free action when he hits with an attack. The target of the attack's land speed is reduced by half for 1d4 rounds.

            Hell Hound (EX): As a swift action you can increase the critical threat range of your weapons by one point per world (planet, inhabited moon, space station, arc ship, ect) you have actively persued your target through. Example: You’re pursing a criminal who you encountered first on Earth, than again on Rigel II Beta, and finally on Andromeda VII, your weapon attacks would have their critical threat range increased by three. This enhancement lasts for one round. This ability only functions against a single target, which you designate when you activate the power.

            I Hate This Planet (EX): The Bounty Hunter’s disdain for the backwater world he’s chased his quarry to improves keeps him sharp. As a swift action, the Bounty Hunter can receive a +5 insight bonus on his next ranged attack roll. If this ranged attack is successful, an inanimate object, structure of piece of cover within 30 ft of the target and in a straight line from it suffers the same amount of damage as the initial target.

Rattling Strike (EX): The ranger can use this trick as a free action before he makes a melee attack. If the attack hits, the target is shaken for 1d4 rounds.

Reputation for Violence (EX): If you invoke this trick as a free action while making a melee attack, you roll an Intimidate check rather than a melee attack roll to determine the attack’s success.

“Safety’s On” (EX): As a swift action, you make a Bluff check against an adjacent, armed target who can clearly understand you. If the Bluff check is successful, the target inadvertently either ejects her weapon’s magazine or completely drains its power cell.

Stay Up (EX): The ranger can activate this trick as a swift action. Doing so allows him to reroll a failed FORT Save; he must take the results of the reroll even if they are worse then the first results.

            Tirade (EX): As an immediate action, whenever you successfully demoralize a character with Intimidate, you can attempt a new Intimidate check to demoralize another target within 30 ft who can clearly see and hear you.

Trick Shot (EX): As a standard action, the ranger can make a ranged attack that ignores concealment (but not total concealment), soft cover, and partial cover.

Uncanny Senses (EX): As an immediate action, the ranger gains a +10 insight bonus on Perception (Spot) checks for 1 round.

Warning Shot (EX): As an immediate action after making a successful ranged attack roll and rolling damage, the Bounty Hunter can elect not to deal damage. Instead, the target is paralyzed for one round, if they fail a WILL Save with a DC equal to the rolled damage. If they save, the warning shot has no effect. This is a mind influencing, fear effect.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Galaxy Command: Heavy Future

         Here's a look at something I started writing last night. I wasn't getting anywhere with my Sectaurs inspired setting, and I realized I'd had this idea percolating in my brain for the last few weeks. Here's an excerpt from the opening text to a new Galaxy Command sourcebook. 

   "Heavy Future is a sourcebook for the Galaxy Command campaign setting. By default Galaxy Command is pretty clean; other than the occasional space-bikini, things are kept pretty all ages. Sex is kept off screen, badguys are clearly marked, adventures are action packed without being excessively violent. In short, Galaxy Command is not the setting you’d expect from the author of Otherverse America and Black Tokyo.

            Heavy Future changes all that, overlays the bright and shiny utopia of the 35th Century with a thick layer of late 70s sci-fi sleeze. All of a sudden, sex throbs to the forefront of the story, players visit pleasure moons where they pump alien thugs for information in more ways than one, and the setting’s central conflict the war between Galaxy Command and WARSTAR gets dirtier than ever. Heavy Future is inspired by retro sci-fi stories like Barbarella, Star Crash and Heavy Metal, as well as modern sci-fi stories in the same vein, like Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga and Machinations of the Space Princess. Expect kinky and endearingly bizarre aliens, sexy space pirates, strange new monsters, quirky new powers and some of the most bizarre, deadly and tantalizing forbidden weapons in the whole strange galaxy!

No Sex Future

            Galaxy Command brought peace to half the galaxy, united a diverse assortment of races in single purpose, built the first star gates and warp drives, and fought WARSTAR to a standstill on a thousand worlds. But who cares about any of that?

            Command Space may be safe, but it’s sterile and sexless by choice. Everything, on every world is perfect. The benevolent and all knowing Adam Intelligence provides for its citizens on every need and desire. Sex and romance are outmoded concepts, unnecessary for a galactic population that reproduces only through Adam-selected artificial breeding. The human race has long freed itself from base hormonal drives. On Earth, marriages are consummated by psychic transference, an intensely pleasurable telepathic ritual that unifies the couple without all the messy barbarism of actual fluid transfer.

            So naturally, there’s a whole galaxy out there not buying into Galaxy Command’s plastic and polyester utopia. Sure, the unaligned worlds might have to put up with more WARSTAR incursions than Command Space systems, and sure, everybody has to kick up the credits to the Space Mafia to stay safe, but that’s why the Good Lord K’zakkit made disintegrator pistols. Out there in unclaimed space, you still live free, fly by your wits, and stick your input into anything cute, warm, willing and greenskinned when you want to.

The Star Virgin Cultural Template

            Galaxy Command has abandoned sex, and for most civilized spacers, the mere thought of simple kissing with all its bacteriological transfer and hormonal dangers shakes them to their spines. The whole idea of sex, pregnancy and childbirth without using an exo-womb…. those things are horrors best left to behind in the pre-space flight darkness of humanity’s past, like eating meat, warfare and criminal behavior. Characters with the Star Virgin cultural template added are firm believers in Galaxy Command’s chaste utopia, living hormonally suppressed lives that free them to concentrate on enlightenment and exploration. Whether exposure to a dangerous and thrilling galaxy breaks the Star Virgin out of his or her shell, or only strengthens their commitment to Galaxy Command’s ideals, is a question for each character to answer themselves.

Acquiring the Template
The Star Virgin cultural template can be added to any human character who grew up in Command Space during character creation. Star Virgins can give up this template at any time, by choosing actual, physical sex with a willing partner, immediately losing the template’s benefit but also removing its drawbacks.

Ability Score Modifiers
            -1 STR, +1 INT. Star Virgins emphasize the mind and disregard the body. They learn fast but have no real idea what their bodies are capable of. This ability score modifier is lost when the Star Virgin template is removed.

            Hormonally Pure (EX)
            Star Virgins take libido-suppressants and mood-mellowers. Centuries of genetic and social conditioning have bred a race of Chaste and rational humans. Star Virgins are not affected by Charm Person, nor abilities that duplicate it, and receive a +2 racial bonus on WILL Saves against mind influencing effects.

            Flustered (EX)
            Try as they might, Star Virgins can’t quite suppress their instinctive sexual drives. Though they do not practice, they have a preferred gender and sexual orientation, no matter how suppressed. When within 30 ft of any human of their preferred gender with a CHA score of 15+, the Star Virgin is distracted, tongue tied and uneasy for some reason they can’t really explain. The Star Virgin suffers a -1 luck penalty on all skill checks and Initiative checks."

Anyway, expect more Heavy Future previews in the coming days. I figure it should be as well received as Action Galaxy was- a modular campaign plug in that spins the generic sci-fi environment of Galaxy Command in a particular direction. 


Monday, July 8, 2013

A Cyborg Died Last Night

A cyborg died last night. 

Her name was Hannah Warren. Half Korean, a little short of three years old. Born without a trachea. Cutie.

In April, she was implanted with an artificial trachea, made of plastic and artificial tissue cultured from her own bone marrow. Sunday, a little less than three months after becoming a cyborg, Hannah Warren died. The implant worked; her body failed around the implant. Three years old, and the surgery was too much for a sick little kid to take. But the implant worked, an artificial trachea, first of its kind in the world worked for three months. Hannah got to spend about three months out of her hospital bed and off her breathing tube for three months, and got to taste what it was like to be a kid for about 90 days.

The implant worked.

And the little girl, who fate decided to make the first of her kind, still died.

But an impossible, science fictiony thing happened. For three months, a new type of cybernetic implant kept a dying kid alive. A surgery that had never been attempted before failed, but at least Hannah's doctors tried. And text time, with the next sick kid, maybe they keep her alive for six months, or nine months, or a full year. And the one after that, maybe she gets to see her prom.

Because impossible things are only hard the first time, and this impossible, highly experimental surgery kept a little girl alive for three months.

Blessed Be,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Insect Summer

 In Texas, during summer there are two constants. Heat and bugs. Wasps and spiders, bees and beetles, locusts, flies and mosquitoes everywhere.

Inspired by all the insect life buzzing and stinging, I've decided to build a Sectaurs inspired setting., called Symbor. Like Action Galaxy, Symbor will be a mini-campaign campaign, with lots of new fluff and crunch to bend Galaxy Command to a specific genre.

Right now, my world of Symbor will be a dual-format setting, ostensibly part of the Galaxy Command cosmology, but also usable in a fantasy context. Like most of my current stuff, my Sectaurs homage world will be a hybrid of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with D20 Modern elements.

As it stands now, my "Symbor" draft is pretty basic. I'm only just getting to know this world.... My memories of Sectaurs are fairly vague, I remember loving the classic Marvel tie-in comic, which featured amazing art from Mark Texeria, who went on to do awesome art on the 90s Ghost Rider revamp. Seriously, Texeria's art was the absolutely best part of that comic. I remember owning only one Sectaur figure, Waspix. He's the purple and green fellow in the above image, and I loved him. The almost metallic sheen on his armor looked beautiful, and for an early 80s toy, he had tons of articulation and great sculpting. I think at the time the larger Sectaurs figures, especially those with the 'deluxe' insect steeds were a little too expensive for my family- if I recall the Sectaurs toys had a price point several bucks higher than the MOTU figures, and much, much higher than a single, carded G.I. Joe.

I recently began watching the five episode mini-series on Youtube- call it research. Storywise, the cartoon holds up. It was much more violent and genuinely medieval show than Masters of the Universe, and the series' main villian, General Spidrax, was an extremely competent and intimidating figure. He felt like a brilliant and  sadistic military leader, sorta of Vlad Dracul with compound eyes. If I had to give the cartoon a one line summary it would be "Game of Thrones with bug people." Seriously, the cartoon was shockingly dark, presenting a world with sadistic slave-masters, sociopathic mercenaries and a villainous army on the march, pillaging and burning everything in their path.

The key rules elements this setting will include:

* Everybody gets an animal companion. Classes, like Ranger or Paladin, that get some kind of animal companion or mount receive a more powerful animal companion.
* The worlds natives are a unique race of humanoids called Sectans, whose racial traits emphasize their bond with insects and inhuman features and powers.
* Swappable racial ability packages, starting talents and racial feats will incorporate elements from Fursona, which are 'on-theme' with a world of giant insects.
*Naturally there will be tons of new bug and spider-based monsters, and I'll be pulling some critters from my still unpublished Endara draft to populate Symbor.
* Techlevel will be mostly medieval/Renaissance but there will be pockets of advanced tech and cool sci-fi type weapons, not to mention 'dues ex machina' type artifacts and lost relics.

I'm getting the first sketches in from Amanda and the first renders from John. I really like this wasp-rider from Amanda. She looks like she belongs in the original Sectaurs cartoon- she's a riff, not a rip-off or mere repainted knock-off. Anyway, expect the Symbor book in a couple of weeks, and a few other projects in the meantime.

Blessed Bee,