Monday, February 29, 2016

More Assault Witch artwork

Hey, the artwork is starting to pour in for my upcoming Witches of the Blue Skies sourcebook and I thought I'd show of some of my favorites.

The top image, by John Picot depicts one of the signature magic items in the sourcebook, the "flight hammer" rocket launcher, obviously inspired by Sonya Litvak's 'fligerhammer' missile pod in the anime. Such an awesome image.

Below, you've got Amanda Webb's inked portrait of General Masamune, the base commander and an important NPC mentioned in the previous post.

More to come soon,

Monday, February 22, 2016

Assault Witch Campaign Guide: Cover Rough

I just received this pencil art from Amanda Webb of what's going to be cover of Witches of the Blue Skies. You all know how fast she works, so expect Witches... out fairly quickly. The cover depicts the three main 'types' of Assault Witches: a Combined Fleet POETICA heavy gunner, a Strike Kitten and finally a human Assault Witch in the foreground.

If you're wondering about the lack of background its because once Amanda gets to the color stage, the three witches will be flying against a bright afternoon sky.

I'll show off some more preview content later.

Blessed Be,

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Assault Witches Background and Campaign Info

Well, I'm proceeding with the Assault Witch campaign sourcebook, tentatively titled Witches of the Blue Skies. I just commissioned some artwork for the book, and the text is pretty much done. Expected Witches of the Blue Skies within a few weeks.

Today, I'm going to do a big preview of the book's fluff. Here's most of the campaign advice and setting information I'll be including with the final sourcebook. This should give you an idea of how I'm integrating Strike-Witches-style antics into the Black Tokyo universe.

Enjoy the preview,

Witches of the Blue Skies is a campaign sourcebook for the Black Tokyo Campaign Setting. Black Tokyo is such a diverse sand-box campaign world, filled with so many anime influences and homages that it’s possible to run your campaign in any of a dozen radically different styles. The high-flying, fast-moving and thrilling Assault Witches campaign is one of these many styles.

Witches of the Blue Skies will help you build skilled young aviatrix, who take to the sky thanks to occult jet boots. Daring heroines called Assault Witches blend military training with the magical gift of flight, and leap into the sky to battle a remorseless horde of enigmatic destroyers called the Abyss.

Let’s fly!

Obvious Inspirations
The Assault Witch Campaign is strongly, strongly inspired by the Strike Witches anime in specific and “mecha-musume” anime in general.

Other inspirational anime and fiction include:
Battle Fairy Yukakazi            
Cat Planet Cuties
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Kantai Collection 
Macross Plus
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Sky Girls
Transformers: Kiss Players  

The Assault Witches Campaign
An Assault Witches campaign has a military flavor, but isn’t too concerned with accurately modeling military life or traditions- if it were, the protagonists wouldn’t be teenaged girls flying through the stratosphere sans pants. Instead, the campaign embraces the tropes and clich├ęs of military fiction and layers them over a traditional anime action core.

Girl Heroes
The core of an Assault Witches campaign are the young women of a particular fighter wing. All (or at least most) of the characters will be Assault Witches, probably assigned to Misawa’s 105th Joint Operations Group, or a similar fighter wing you’ve built your self. There’s room for non-Assault Witch support staff, allied heroes and non-military adventuring companions, but unless these outsider heroes can fly (and fly really fast!) they’re going to be left out of the action when their Assault Witch comrades take to the sky to battle the Abyss.

Most Assault Witches are going to be female, which certainly fits with Black Tokyo’s strong female fandom and is certainly in keeping with the spirit of the anime that inspired the campaign. An Assault Witch campaign should emphasize the importance of camaraderie, female friendship and teamwork. There might be a few male “Yeagers” flying with the squadron or allied male heroes, but first and foremost this should be a campaign about badass, heroic young girls defending their country!

It’s an all-girl cast. It’s Black Tokyo. The lesbian subtext should be so prevalent and so obvious that it becomes text. Many of the new mechanical elements (feats, traits and powers) presented in this sourcebook reward players for building yuri aviatrix and loving, longing for, and occasionally losing their squadron mates. Romance, even romantic comedy, can fill the days between Abyss assaults, when the Assault Witches return to their base for training and downtime.

The concept of  Masamune Divisions within the JSDF is not just a tongue-in-cheek homage to mangaka Shirow Masamune who certainly illustrated many military women who played that role, but also provides an in-setting justification for how a modern, first world military could ignore or even condone some rather extreme examples of fraternization.

While yuri romance and rather acrobatic, high-speed fanservice are core parts of an Assault Witch campaign, the rape and monstrosity found in many other Black Tokyo campaign models really isn’t….unless you want it to be. The Abyss, Tottori Horrors and other monsters native to this campaign style are completely inhuman and utterly monstrous, without recognizable human desires or motives. They want to annihilate the player characters with superior firepower and can cause massive causalities, but their evil is a more impersonal, emotionless and alien evil than the lust-driven rage of setting villains like Taru Tsuyoi. That makes the Abyss and similar creatures somewhat less infuriating than truly nasty villains with a personal motivation: Abyss might wrack up high body counts and billions of yen in property damage, but they don’t infuriate the players on a personal level like a rapist or child molester would. 

All that said, Assault Witch squadrons might deployed to fight the worst, most visceral evils Black Tokyo has to offer. And throwing a flight wing of courageous, optimistic Assault Witches against something truly monstrous and rapacious – something that wants to fuck them to death with a hundred razor edged cocks – can highlight not only the horror of the rapist, but also the innocence and courage of the Assault Witches themselves.

Dogfight Days!
Air to air combat! That’s the primary focus of the campaign. Most if not all the player characters will be fliers, and even among the ranks of ordinary fliers, these girls will be extraordinary. Player characters are going to be among the fastest, most maneuverable creatures in the crowded, dangerous skies over Black Japan. An Assault Witches campaign is a very high power, combat-focused campaign. Build fast, competent, hard hitting heroines and equip them with best gear the gamemaster will allow!

Techno-Magical Wings
An Assault Witch campaign emphasizes techno-magic rather than more traditional sorcery, and places less emphasis on Shinto and Buddhist folklore and scripture than most Black Tokyo campaigns. Powers and magical items built for this campaign type have a military flavor, and are a bit higher tech than the norm for Black Tokyo. There are also more guns – including military grade firepower! – available to the player characters than elsewhere in Japan, where guns are fairly restricted and uncommon.

Mildly Military
The Assault Witches are ostensibly a military organization, but action and adventure should be the prime focus. Routine training, paperwork and collateral duties are usually glossed over in favor of combat and military melodrama and are typically things that happen off-screen or in the background between dramatic events.

The campaign should touch on all the expected tropes of military fiction, but always in a slightly skewed fashion, with anime sensibilities and the personalities of exuberant young girls in mind. And whenever possible, add some fanservice to an otherwise by the numbers military-fiction scene.

Some plot points you might want to touch upon, include:
·         The ‘fuckin’ new girl’ has to prove herself to her more experienced squad-mates
·         Uniform inspections and awards ceremonies as a huge pain in the ass
·         Two squad-mates who initially hate each other forced to save one another’s lives and become true friends
·         A fierce rivalry with another unit, another branch of the military, or with an allied foreign unit that constantly shows up the PC’s squad
·         A new officer who knows a lot less than the veteran enlisted members of the squad and might or might not be able to admit it
·         A rookie Assault Witch has to overcome her fear during her first battle, or a coward redeeming herself with an act of over-the-top courage
·         A character’s compassion leads her to try to befriend an enemy that everyone else believes is a remorseless killing machine, or de-escalate a conflict rather than engaging
·         A character killing for the first time, which can be played as a tragedy or a huge personal milestone for a badass young warrior
·         An Assault Witch reaching some combat milestone like 100, 200 or more shoot-downs. In the real-world, five shoot downs make you an ace- Assault Witches might make ace within the first game session!
·         Exhausting, intense physical training or days long field exercises
·         Simulated battles against members of your own squad playing the part of the opposing force, or wargames against the militaries of allied nations (or other factions, like Chrysanthemum Seven or GILGAMESH)
·         An unexpected enemy assault or crisis during a field training exercise or war game
·         Minor offenses being punished by confinement to base and extra (usually unpleasant) duty
·         Leaves cancelled by an impending crisis or heroes forced to return to assemble an ad-hoc squad to fight some major threat
·         Having to jury rig something because proper supplies or methods  aren’t available or will take too long, or just because the by-the-book procedures suck
·         Everything has a procedures manual. Everything.

Military Porn
Part of the appeal of the Strike Witches anime is the fetishistic level of detail it devotes to the heroines’ period-accurate weapons and uniforms, not to mention parallels between the characters and their real world inspirations. The more details you can pack into your campaign, the more fun it will be, even if your players never consciously pick up on your research. Picking up a few Osprey Publishing books on both modern and WWII-era Japanese arms and equipment, or an appropriate Jane’s Guide will add a lot of flavor to your campaign. (Doing the research for my campaign worlds is often the most fun part of a project for me, hopefully it will be for you too.)

Duty Sections
The Assault Witches have to be ready for action 24 hours a day. As a result, there will likely be a minimum of four squadrons, each of which acts as a duty section.

My real world experience at Misawa AFB had four duty sections, Alpha and Baker, Charlie and Dawg, pulling 12 hour shifts. Alpha and Baker (my section) were paired, so when Alpha worked day shift, Baker worked night shift and vice versa. When our sections were off duty, Charlie and Dawg took over. Usually, the duty sections rotated between day and night duty every two weeks. This makes a pretty usable system for the fictionalized Misawa airbase and its fliers. Usually, all the player characters will belong to the same duty section, and will have the closest relationship with members of their own duty section. 

The Real World: Article Nine
Article nine of Japan’s Constitution, ratified after the post-WWII Occupation, prohibits the country from maintaining an offensive military. Officially, Japan is a pacifist nation: its armed forces are referred to as ‘self defense forces’ rather than a military. The difference is not merely semantic. Japan’s soldiers are considered civil servants, and unlike the American military, are not subject to a separate military justice system- they are governed by the same civil law as any other Japanese citizen.

Military service in Japan lacks the prestige and adventurous allure it holds for Americans. Similarly, the benefits offered to JSDF members are meager compared to the living conditions of American forces stationed on the island. Pay tends to be lower for JSDF members than their American counterparts, military medical care is limited to injuries or illness incurred in the line of duty, and JSDF soldiers do not have exchange or PX/BX privileges. If JSDF members live on base, they do so in spartan barracks several decades old.
JSDF resources are deployed around the world on humanitarian missions more often than they are to project power. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, JSDF forces were deployed to Northern Japan to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts, while larger contingents of forces were deployed around Indonesia after the 2005 tsunami. A deployment to Iraq, in a support role, during the Bush ‘presidency’ lasted only a few months and caused such a political firestorm at home that the excursion is not likely to be repeated.

The JSDF resolutely refuses to even consider the use of nuclear weapons in combat, and Japan remains non-nuclear by choice. American forces stationed in Japan cannot store nuclear arms in their host nation, and many Japanese port cities are even leery about letting nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or ballistic missile submarines to make a port call. Most Japanese, including most JSDF members, view nukes with almost primal revulsion. Likewise, Japan has not produced military technology that would allow it to project force, in keeping with the constitutional limits on military growth. For example, the Maritime Self Defense forces have cruisers and patrol boats, but no true aircraft carriers (though military buffs are quick to point out that many of the larger Japanese ‘destroyers’ are aircraft carriers in all but name).
Misawa Air Force Base, Misawa, Aomori Prefecture
The Japanese Air and Ground Self Defenses Forces share this sprawling base with the United States; both the USAF and Navy have huge contingents on base. In addition to its mundane military duties, Misawa AFB is home to Japan’s Assault Witch squadrons. Promising female pilots and rookie aviatrix train tirelessly in the clear blue skies over the quiet, dusty city of Misawa. In addition to the glamorous Assault Witches, a coven of female military mages are trained here. Chrysanthemum Seven trains military Flow Witches and Lovely Medics to spec-ops standards here, before deploying them to anti-oni squads throughout Black Japan.
Crown Princess Masako’s vision of a more inclusive, female-friendly JSDF is bearing its ripest fruit at Misawa. While the women warriors assigned here have great power, the sheer presence of so many witches and female occultists has attracted oni to the area, like predators scenting prey. Battles against demonic lust-predators and rapacious horrors from the Black Else are especially brutal, this far north.

Brigadier General Sora Masamune
General Sora Masamune is the ultimate commander of Misawa air base, and was the first Assault Witch- the first to don the turbine leggings, before there was even an official term for what these high-flying women were! General (then Ensign) Masamune was the first female pilot to fly combat mission for Japan- off the books flights over Laos and Cambodia with specially selected American pilots during the Vietnam war. (By the way, the rumors about her and Ladybird Johnson in the Lincoln Bedroom are all true.)

When it became obvious the young ace’s natural talents were only being stifled by her specially modified and custom-painted F-4 Phantom, the best techno-occulists in the JSDF were commissioned to create the Assault Witch technology! With her help, they did it, and throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, proved the technology in a series of secret sorties the world never heard about, but owes its continued existence to.

Now in her mid-60s, Gen. Masamune has been forced to abandon the sky for desk duty- training, disciplining and guiding the next generation of Assault Witches. She’s still impressive in the air though- the limp she’s sported since flak over Hanoi blew apart her left hip doesn’t slow her down at all once she reaches altitude during check flights.

As one of the first woman to play a major role in the modern Japanese military, Gen. Masamune has been instrumental in carrying out Crown Princes Misako’s modernization campaign. Masamune fought hard to bring the Assault Witches to Misawa, and protects the 105th Joint Fighter Wing fiercely, and under her command, the wing has proved its utility against the Abyss and other incursions.

Using Brig. Gen. Masamune in the Campaign
General Masamune is a stern but honorable authority figure for the campaign. She is a contrivance to keep the air base and its staff running smoothly. She is also going to take the sky one last time, die heroically, and inspire the young fliers under her command to live up to her example. You can also use her (once or twice, before her luck fails) to rescue a doomed player character, or even up an unfair battle, but with concrete mechanical weaknesses built-in that keep her from being an irritating GMPC.

If you run General Masamune in combat, use the Assault Witch Squadron Leader stat-block with the following modifications. These reinforce her role as an aging badass, who does the impossible and fights heroically but knows her time is passed.
·         General Masamune has only 14 Hit Points (1 HP per Hit Dice).
·         General Masamune takes no damage from successful attack rolls and is considered to have Spell Resistance 30 against opponents of CR 7 or less. She automatically succeeds on saving throws against effects produced by enemies of CR 7 or less.
·         Opponents of CR 8+ receive an untyped bonus on ranged attack rolls against Gen. Masamune equal to ½ their Hit Dice, with no cap.
·         When slain, Gen. Masamune cannot normally be raised or resurrected (her soul is unwilling, basically, unless the PCs have such a deep personal relationship, developed by roleplaying she might return for one final mission).
·         Even if she is raised or resurrected, she still has these modifications.
·         If Gen. Masamune is slain, all player characters involved in the battle, with Assault Witch cavalier levels gain enough XP to gain one level, which must be spent on this class.

The Drill Sergeant of Lion Squadron
Lion Squadron is the largest, most storied and most famous Assault Witch squadron on base (though far from the only one). Part of Lion Squadron’s legendary effectiveness is their extraordinary training and conditioning regimen. The squadron’s drill sergeant is, in his own way, every bit as extraordinary as the base’s commanding officer.

Ten years ago, a male lion washed up on the Nagasaki shore during an especially fierce Akashita Wind storm. Battered and beaten, the lion’s right forepaw was completely destroyed by what looked like heavy machinegun fire, and a good deal of his fur was burnt away. As strange as the lion’s sudden appearance was, when he finally awakened in a nearby zoo’s veterinary clinic was the revelation that he spoke. Initially, the lion just growled fluent English, but he picked up Japanese within two years.

The wounded lion had no memory of how he came to be in Nagasaki, nor who nearly killed him, nor even how he could reason and speak. Not knowing what else to do with the lion, Chrysanthemum Seven took him into custody, and eventually nursed him back to health. Over the years, the still nameless lion went into battle alongside C-7 as they fought the horrors of the Black Else.

Eventually, the lion (LG male Ubasti Fighter 11) became the unofficial mascot of Lion Squadron and its semi-official physical training instructor. He’s fiercely protective of the base’s young women, and most of the cat-girls on base consider him a gruff favorite uncle…even if his pre-dawn PT sessions leave most of them puking and gasping in exhaustion. With his new mission, and new girls to protect, the great, scarred lion leaves questions of what he is and where he comes from to his unquiet dreams.

Combined Fleet HQ
The Combined Fleet Project is an adjunct to the military’s Assault Witch program headquartered at Misawa AFB. While Assault Witches are brave young girls trained as soldiers and magical fliers, the heroines of the somewhat more obscure Combined Fleet are made, not born. Combined Fleet POETICA are forged on site in Misawa, using military facilities operating under a multi-billion yen license from the New Day Girl Factory. The Combined Fleet POETICA are the only authorized model of android girl produced away from the megacorp’s Ehime facility. 

Approximately 150 Combined Fleet POETICA are quartered in a set of run down barracks in the western quadrant of Misawa AFB. The well equipped, heavily armed and extensively trained androids are deployed with Assault Witch squads, or even with conventional police forces when the opposition is expected to be supernaturally intense. Despite the inherent danger of their role as ‘living land battleships’, the Combined Fleet androids relish their duties. They’re programmed for courage and love the romantic adventure of serving in the JSDF’s elite anti-supernatural squads.
The Combined Fleet barracks are rundown open bay structures of early 1960s vintage, but the androids keep them with obvious pride. Under military law, these POETICA are free citizens of Japan (Gen. Masamune pushed for this, before she’d sign off on the project). The Combined Fleet androids spend most of their meager salaries on military memorabilia, both actual historical artifacts and well made replicas, and have turned their barracks into an impromptu museum of Japanese military history. Historical cosplay is a favorite hobby.

Warrant Officer Heiankyo Alien (named for one of the very first Japanese videogames) is the most senior POETICA in the program, and a highly competent, extremely serious young warrior. Though General Masamune has been able to win the base’s POETICA their freedom, she hasn’t been able to raise the program’s greatest success story to an actual officer’s rank. Officer Heiankyo refuses to let the slight affect her performance, though it has made her secretly bitter. She lacks the joy her younger ‘sisters’ bring to the job, and not even late night LAN parties with them can break her out of her worsening melancholy. She hides her depression well, at least as far as humans are concerned, but the other POETICA on base know what she’s really feeling.

If you need statistics for Warrant Officer Heiankyo Alien, use the Combined Fleet POETICA stat-block.

Strike Kitten Barracks
In contrast with the relative handful of Combined Fleet POETICA quartered at Misawa AFB, nearly 1,000 Strike Kittens are stationed with the Assault Witch Squadron. The genetically sculpted and adventurous kittens are quartered with human JSDF women in slightly more modern barracks than their android sisters have received. They are administratively split up among several squadrons, but share common duty, and a common origin. The best and quickest are active duty Assault Witches, with the rest filling reserve slots, completing their training or performing non-combat duties around the base. And again, because of General Masamune’s insistence, the Strike Kitten are free.

The joint service air base’s commanders (both Japanese and American) have had to put the Strike Kittens officially ‘off limits’ as far as on-duty romances are concerned. The Japanese men on base are bad enough, but for American Navy and Air Force personnel stationed here, most whom have never even seen a catgirl before, the Strike Kittens are simply irresistible.

Of course, most of the Kittens have no interest in romance. They’re still young enough, and boisterous enough, that their only love is the open sky. They’re not always the most reliable about switching on their IFF transponders, and most of them have been officially reprimanded about unauthorized flights in the airspace- a distracted, flying catgirl can be a major navigation hazard. But sometimes the call of a clear blue sky on a spring day is loud enough to override their military discipline and send a small wing of catgirls into the clouds.

While the Combined Fleet POETICA have a strong leader in their warrant officer, the Strike Kittens aren’t quite as lucky. Three Technical Sergeant Strike Kittens share command duties between them. The trio manages to get most of their paperwork done with Gen. Masamune’s extensive help and are quickly maturing into competent leaders, if not exactly by-the-book ones. Sergeants Ringo, Kayu and Atari are constantly in trouble with the general for minor breaches of discipline, but have good hearts and are better leaders in battle than they are administrators.

If you need statistics for any of these three feline Tech Sergeants, use the Assault Witch Strike Kitten stat-block.

Kotobuki-San and the Assault Witch Mess
The Assault Witches share their old and somewhat run-down mess facilities with the rest of the JSDF members on base. The Assault Witches themselves have a smaller mess area cordoned off, which the kitchen staff tries to make as elegant as possible, which usually means hanging curtains over walls stained by age, time and water. The food however, is a lot better than anything the Americans get in their larger and more modern mess-hall.

The kitchen is run by an old woman everyone just calls Kotobuki-San (Mrs. Kotobuki). Everyone with magical senses gets occasional tinges that she might be more than human, but as far as anybody can tell, she’s just a 68 year old woman who’s worked in restaurants her whole life and will probably keep working another 20 years, who’s unhealthily obsessed with the local football club, and who makes the absolutely best cakes and tea in the whole prefecture.

The mess itself is open 24 hours a day, to accommodate service members on all shifts, but Kotobuki-San only comes into work at exactly 0433 every morning, and has her first baked goods ready to eat an hour or so later. She leaves work around 1630 each afternoon and never seems to take regular days off, though she might disappear for a bit during World Cup season.

Squadron Gymnasium Facility II
The Assault Witches and related staffers have access to one of the base’s gymnasiums, which is a boon because when winter comes, Misawa grows far too cold for outdoor PT. Facility II is found a few short yards behind the mess hall, behind a rather ugly fenced-in fuel-oil storage depot. Facility II also boasts a small and intimate but popular artificial onsen. The gym’s onsen is women only, and has become a defacto hang-out for many of the base’s Assault Witches. Even General Masamune occasionally comes in for a long, leisurely soak, and as she says “rank has no place in the bath.”

In-Game Use
The indoor onsen is a place for hanging out and roleplaying, with a ton of fanservice potential and sexy bathing adventures mixed in. If the PCs do a lot of their pre-mission scheming and post-mission debriefing in the onsen, consider giving everybody who participates regularly the Nearly Naked Exposition trait as a reward for staying firmly in-genre. And also, if you want to shake up the players, or literally catch the heroes with their pantsu down, nothing’s stopping a Breath of the Onsen or similar monster from taking up residence!
Hanger S-Alpha
The 105th Joint Operations Group is headquartered in one of the larger and more modern hangers on base. Hanger S-Alpha was erected during the late 1990s, and includes dedicated medical facilities for Assault Witch Nekomusume and POETICA, briefing rooms and simulators used by the squads, arcane/mechanical repair facilities for Assault Witch components. Fast launch tubes leading directly to pre-cleared runways can put whole squadrons of occult fliers into the air within minutes!

An air traffic control tower looms high over Hanger S-Alpha, painted with the iconic symbol of the 105th JOG- a golden feather and grey missile against a bright blue field. An ever increasing roster of black diamonds, each symbolizing a successful Abyss shoot-down, is painted beneath the unit logo.

Unknown to most base staffers, and even to most lower-ranking Assault Witches, a massive underground laboratory beneath Hanger S-Alpha contains the remains of hundreds of Abyss and other oni predators, studied under extreme security. Project GILGAMESH has pushed time and again for access to the samples, but General Masamune is leery of letting their scientists in. As far as she’s concerned, her methods of containing the Abyss are far more effective, and cause fewer collateral damage than GILGAMESH’s handling of the Tottori Horrors. To say Project GILGAMESH disagrees is putting it very mildly. 

The Armory Slit
The 105th’s magi-tech armory is kept within Hanger S-Alpha, under ultra-tech security and potent magical wards. The armory’s towering entryway resembles nothing so much as a fortified adamantine vault door built in imitation of a woman’s most intimate folds. Base policy requires all occult weapons and artifact-level devices be stored in the Armory Slit between missions, though Assault Witch adventurers are allowed to keep most magical costumes, armor, and wondrous items in their quarters. Unofficially, most proven Assault Witches keep an enchanted pistol or combat knife on their person at all times for self defense.

The American Contingent
Misawa AFB is unusual in that it has a large American presence, and over half the massive, fenced military airbase is given over to Air Force and Navy facilities. The presence of so-many foreign troops gives Misawa its unique character and brings new approaches to the JSDF’s traditional fight against oni and undead. The American contingent is fully briefed on the reality of supernatural Japan, unlike most American soldiers serving elsewhere on this dangerous, black planet.

A deployment to Misawa is an eye opener for most sailors and airmen, an introduction to wonders and horrors formerly concealed by the modern world’s shadows. Once they overcome their culture shock they realize that while the United States is relatively new to the fight against the Black Else, superior training and firepower counts for almost as much as Shinto exorcism techniques and Goetic demonology. The Americans are higher tech, and use more modern methods than Chrysanthemum Seven; the Red Line Array was their idea, as are the Solenoid Quench Cannon and other revolutionary anti-oni weapons.

The American forces on the base are under the ultimate command of the United States Air Force, with the Navy taking a smaller role on base (though the Navy does provide a substantial minority of Yeager officers).  The American side’s commanding officer is Air Force Colonel Rick Plantaganet (LN male human Fighter 8/Rogue 4), who even though he’s a balding, 52 year old desk-weasel still goes by the moronic callsign he picked up during his days as a pilot, he even signs his orders with it. He’s the stereotypical ugly American- a close-talking, loudmouthed, aggressive, Evangelical Christian bully, and his troops would probably get more done if some oni bit his head off at the shoulders. There’s a few of them who are clever enough to realize it.

The Red Line Array
Misawa AFB is home to a huge antenna farm that covers several acres. Most of the world believes the array is an electronic warfare site, if they give it any thought at all, but its purpose is far stranger. The Red Line Array sits at a conflux of ley lines, and is able to feel the pulse of mystical energy across the planet as easily as a stethoscope finds a patient’s pulse. Chrysanthemum Seven uses the Red Line Array to track every torii gate currently open in Asia.
The arcane technologists working in the windowless Array Control can….

Red Line Array Task
Computer Use Check DC
Map all stable torii in one Japanese prefecture
DC 25
Map all currently open temporary/unstable torii in one Japanese prefecture
DC 30
Map all torii that have been closed within the past 24 hours, throughout one Japanese Prefecture
DC 32
Map the location of all Conjuration spells or effect of 6th level or higher, cast within a single Japanese prefecture
DC 35
Map the location of all raise dead or resurrection or similar spells cast to restore life to the dead cast within a single Japanese prefecture
DC 30
Map the location of all death effects of 4th level or higher, cast within a single Japanese prefecture
DC 28
Map the location of all haunts duplicating the effect of 3rd or higher level spells within a single Japanese prefecture
DC 30
Any casting of wish, limited wish or miracle (or similar spells) sounds a visual and audible alarm indicating the prefecture of casting. Pinpointing the casting to within 30 ft requires a check.
DC 15
Either the Tottori or Hyogo prefectures are mapped, due to lingering dimensional rifts.
+5 to check DC
Provide a realtime location on a single Outsider (20 HD or fewer) known to the operator within Japan
DC 40
Provide a realtime location on a single Outsider (21+ HD or greater) known to the operator within Japan
DC 30
In all cases, mapping is accurate to within about 30 ft

The Red Line Array becomes erratic during Akashita Winds; add +1d8 to the check DC during a wind storm anywhere on the Japanese archipelago. Each check requires 1d4 minutes, and provides a tactical map accurate to about 10 meters. Only Chrysanthemum Seven operatives, Assault Witches or their agents have access to this ultra-classified data. Mapping a prefecture requires about 5 minutes per skill check.

The Red Line Array came online during the early 1970s. Prior to that, a ring of Jomon-era stone monoliths stood in the empty pastureland. Similar to the monoliths at Stonehenge and other sites, these ornately carved pillars served an undoubtedly similar function for the island’s most ancient inhabitants. When the Array was erected, the Heart Pillar was moved to the near-freezing steel and concrete bunkers beneath the Array itself. Now, the great stone pillar is connected, by magic and fiber-optical cabling, to the vast server farm powering the array.

Anyan Tennouji Primary School
Unusually for an on-base military school, Anyan Tennouji is named for a Japanese fighter (one of the boldest Japanese aces of WWII, and one of the nation’s most patriotic Doujinishi), rather than an American military hero. The reason is that during a fierce engagement with US Army Air Corps forces, Lt. Tennouji broke off hostilities and joined his US rivals in a pitched battle against a horror emerged from the Black Else, and saved myriad lives, both American and Japanese. A painted concrete statue of Lt. Tennouji’s Zero decorates the school’s sports field.

Anyan Tennoujii (known as AT Primary to most students) is a combined primary school, servicing American students from grades pre-K to grade 8. A surprisingly large number of the student body are Doujinishi themselves: living warplane-spirits summoned by the care and attention that the air base’s flight crews lavish of the military aircraft as well as incarnate gun fantasies and military power dreams. A handful of Imperialistic Kami have been born at the base, and though technically not American citizens (or citizens of any nation, really) they are allowed to attend AT Primary with their mortal class mates.

Many of the young plane fantasies and war-dreams attending AT Primary soon mature into competent fighter pilots themselves- the best donning the armored turbine leggings of an Assault Witch and taking to the skies.

Benten’s Sea Pizza II
The first and biggest Benten’s Sea Pizza is in Kanagawa Prefecture, but recently the second restaurant in the strange franchise opened in Misawa, working out of a two story restaurant right out side Misawa air base’s front security checkpoint. Like its predecessor, Benten’s Sea Pizza II is famous for its delivery girls- high flying teenaged girls delivering pizza on the backs of enchanted flying brooms.

The pizza place’s dining room is always crowded with base personnel and is famous for its fried cheese rolls not just the pizza. Now that Pizza II has opened, it’s taking some of the burden off the Kanagawa branch, handling deliveries for pretty much everything north of Tokyo. The pizza place’s cooks and its high-flying delivery girls are primarily the children of base personnel, both Japanese and American. Gen. Masamune has subtly endorsed Pizza II, because it gives her a pretty deep well of flight-trained young women to recruit Assault Witches from. She suspects that’s the real reason Pizza II’s opened up, though she, like pretty much everybody else, has no idea the Benten in the store’s name actually refers to a real, living goddess rather than just a reference to Shinto myth.

In-Game Use
Pizza II is designed as a point of origin for some Assault Witches, explaining where they first learned to fly. It also provides a way for non-Assault Witch cavaliers flying with the 105th JOG to match the speed and in-air maneuverability of an Airplane Girl. Your character concept not suited to Cavalier levels? That’s fine, put your character on an enchanted broom that can push the Mach limit, and she can still be effective in the air.

Pizza II is also a tie directly into the Goddess Benten plotline woven through several Black Tokyo sourcebooks, and a good way to connect to the rather helpful goddess and become embroiled in her many, many schemes.

If you want to further differentiate broom-fliers trained at Pizza II from ‘ordinary’ Assault Witches, you might allow them to access some of the broom-based fighting styles in Otherverse America. Agile Broom, Ancient Trusted Weapons and other feats in that tree are ideal fighting styles for Benten’s delivery girls, which give them not only some cool tactics to use with their enchanted brooms, but a unique factional identity.

Club Ivy, Hatchinohie, Aomori Prefecture
Club Ivy is the name on the lease, but there’s no sign, or indication what’s behind the peeling green door in a small, windowless building a few blocks from Hatchinohie’s train station. Nobody ever refers to this dingy bar-slash-bordello by name, anyway. It’s well known among both the local Japanese blue collar workers who frequent the place after work, as well as the American servicemen at the nearby Misawa AFB.

Club Ivy is a small-time, Yakuza-owned whore house staffed by a mix of human and POETICA prostitutes. Most of the android prostitutes are actually free, at least to a degree. Club Ivy has become a sort of underground mecca for runaway POETICA. Working here (or at similar low-end clubs on a circuit) for five or six years can buy a POETICA a new life and a foreign passport.

The battleship-girls of Misawa’s Combined Fleet know about the bordello, and help out its POETICA as best they can. They occasionally show up after closing time, bearing gifts, spare clothes, manga and circuit components for both the human and android prostitutes. Badly damaged POETICA sex-workers here know they might be able to get off the books medical care if they can stay alive long enough to reach their weaponized sisters in Misawa.

The Club is run- in name only, by an 80-something, semi-retired Yakuza named Arata (CN male Human Rogue 6). He’s half-senile and narcoleptic, and bangs on a tambourine in time with the bar’s music, at least until he nods off. In reality, he tends the bar, takes the customer’s money and leaves all the real decisions to his POETICA wife, Korra (N female POETICA Expert 5). Korra worked the club herself for nearly a decade, and when she stopped fucking on stage, she married the owner and became legally emancipated. He got old; she can’t. She still likes the senile old rogue, and he’s done enough years of loyal duty to the Yakuza that they allow him the illusion that he’s still running the place- still the deadly pimp he was decades ago. 

Some Suggested Missions
The Assault Witch campaign is primarily mission based. The game session begins with a briefing from their superiors, and than the player characters soar off into battle. Usually an Assault Witch squadron is allowed pretty wide latitude in tactics unless it becomes obvious to the chain of command they’re out classed, giving players some discretion on how they carry out their missions.

The archetypical mission: air defense.  
Pick a Japanese or Okinawan city that’s coastal and has an American or JSDF military base. An Abyss force, size and composition of your choosing, is either already attacking, or will be on site within a few hours! Scramble and drive the Abyss back, destroying as many as you can while protecting human lives and property whenever possible.

If you want to make a standard air defense mission more challenging, roll on this chart to add some random, and potentially nasty complications.

Air Defense Mission Complications (d20)
1 One of the most powerful PCs is grounded for this mission because of some bureaucratic reason
11 Extremely poor visibility (moonless night, intense fog, smoke from ground fires, ect)
2 Tropical storm or hurricane conditions
12 The Abyss assault is a feint concealing their real target
3 Local criminals or supernatural threats plan their crimes to coincide with Abyss raids
13 Local government hamstrings the Assault Witches by preventing them from using their heaviest firepower
4 The airspace is crowded with civilian flights
14 The scramble order comes during the middle of the night, sending an exhausted team into battle
5 The Abyss appear in far greater numbers than previously expected
15 The Abyss range farther inland than previously seen
6 The team is in disarray and not cooperating well because of personal problems or romantic complications
16 During the battle, the Abyss force splits up to tackle several distant objectives simultaneously
7 A crashing Abyss threatens lives on the ground
17 The Abyss seem more intent on killing civilians than ever before, virtually ignoring the Assault Witches
8 The enemy is a small flight of Abyss Witches (which should operate solo!) , rather than more conventional and combative forces
18 Variant Abyss types like White or Blue Abyss (or stranger creatures of the gamemaster’s design) appear
9 The battle derails a bullet train, risking thousands of lives
19 GILGAMESH agents are watching the battle and assessing the Assault Witch’s capabilities, but not interfering
10 Cellphone and radio communication is dropped midway into the battle because of a stray shot
20 A single Abyss ‘ace’ seems to be learning from each encounter with the PCs and countering their usual tactics

For variety, between these air defense missions, try some of these stranger missions (you can roll D20 if you want a random mission):

1.       A low level squad is assigned to provide air cover for prefectural police assigned to hunt a particularly dangerous Black Car or Wet Hell Taxi. When the cops find the vehicle, it’s up to the Assault Witches to chase it down and blow it away. If it has hostages still alive, that makes things a lot harder.

2.       During the spring or summer, a wing of Assault Witches is assigned to air show duty. Pull off fancy Acrobatics and Fly checks and put on a great show to raise recruitment numbers!

3.       An Akashita Wind storm drops torrential rain and high winds on a major Japanese city, but the Assault Witches have to stay airborne, spotting demonic predators as they emerge from unstable torii and calling in their positions to ground squads.

4.       An experienced squad is assigned to help the Maritime SDF hunt down a Bake-Kujira or other coastal kaiju. Hopefully, the team’s got plenty of back up and can pull some really heavy firepower from the armory.

5.       During winter exercises in Hokkaido, a sudden blizzard turns the sky into a frozen, white-out hell and severs comms, and the Assault Witches need to work together just to survive and return to base.

6.       A frustrating wild goose chase, where the Abyss are gone by the time the squadron arrives, and all they can do is help with the clean-up….until one of the squad finds some overlooked piece of evidence that finally answers the question of what the Abyss are and what they really want.

7.       The Assault Witches are assigned escort duty for the Imperial Family’s or Diet’s aircraft, and have a rather nasty encounter with some purely non-supernatural terrorists.

8.       Some bastard in the Diet has called in the Assault Witches to help with a TBMS cat-girl cull: the Strike Kittens are near riot! Officially, the Assault Witches can’t disobey orders, but unofficially (and with Gen. Masamune’s quiet sanction) they can be so ‘accidentally clumsy’ the cull fails cataclysmically.

9.       Capture a lone Abyss Witch alive for interrogation and/or dissection.

10.   The Assault Witches are stationed aboard a Maritime SDF destroyer as it performs humanitarian and relief missions in the Pacific Rim region. It’ll be months before they see Japan again.

11.   A massive earthquake and related tsunami devastates Tokyo, as residents have been fearing since the Great Kanto Quake. The nature of the campaign changes forever, as the greatest mega-city on Earth is forever scarred. The Assault Witches help however they can…but what happens when rogue elements in the military stage a coup against the badly crippled Diet?

12.   Try out an untested, prototype weapon against the Abyss which fails disastrously when it’s turned on.

13.   Find out who or what’s shooting down Pizza II delivery girls, and expect that Benten herself will show up to complicate the investigation.

14.   A pair of well-liked Assault Witches from a rival squadron are killed in a training accident. Was it just an accident? Even if it was, base activities come to a crashing halt until a safety stand-down and investigation is completed, and the Assault Witches deal with their grief.

15.   Project GILGAMESH (and their mecha) shows up at the site of an Abyss attack with their own agenda, which makes the battle a lot more difficult, and a lot more dangerous for civilians caught in the cross fire.

16.   It’s annual leave! Time for the squadron to hit an onsen, do some shopping and karaoke until dawn! Of course, where ever they go to relax is sure to be hit by some kind of supernatural predation when the girls are caught without their best weapons and gear.

17.   Project GILGAMESH has gotten authorization for a sweep and clear mission into the Tottori Exclusion Zone and all available Assault Witches are called in as air support. So’s everybody else in the JSDF and Japanese police force’s anti-supernatural arsenal. Big problems: GILGAMESH is in charge, they’re extremely overconfident, there’s variables they haven’t seen, and the task force’s chain of command is a muddled mess of competing egos.

18.   Scout rumors of the appearance of an Abyss Hive far from Japanese territorial waters, either in the Philippines, near the Hawaiian islands or in the Oceania/Australia region. Is it a wild goose chase offering the opportunity for a paid holiday, or the beginning of the climactic battle?

19.   Assist Police Section Seven in shutting down the Oni’s Night Stadium on its next appearance. Or provide close air support during an undercover operation launched to finally put a stop to the Rape Pure Tournament. Either way, the night is far more horrible than anything the Assault Witches have encountered to date, and there’s a chance they might cross paths with the Eyrines Sisterhood, either as enemies or reluctant allies.

20.   A squad of fairly experienced Assault Witches are assigned a bevy of new, first level rookies. They’ve got to take them on their first live-fire, anti-Abyss mission and keep the newbies alive while doing so.