Fallout: Fate Intro

War. War never changes.

War has always been about resources. Land, food, wealth, energy: behind every conflict in history is the struggle for limited resources. The ideologies, nationalities, religions and moralities that are offered forth as justifications for war have ever been red herrings; in the end, it is not ideas but resources that drive war.

Not even the end of the world could change the drive for resources. The 21st century ended in a cascade nuclear flash; the only survivors were those who found refuge in great underground Vaults. But the vaults were more than simple refuge – they were hideous social experiments, set up to explore the true horrors of nuclear devastation. For some, those in vaults whose doors were designed not to seal, the vaults would become their tombs. The dead were the lucky ones.

Those that survived the slow seepage of nuclear poison came through it changed. Their skin rotted away, while the muscle and organs beneath mutated in a bath of radioactive fallout. Their cells changed, feeding off the toxic material, prolonging their life and suffering and tying them inexorably to the new reality of a post-nuclear landscape. They had become ghouls: immortal, sterile, unchanging relics of the cataclysmic past.

Among the first to set foot in the wasteland were the ghouls of Los Alamos, birthplace of the device that brought its very destruction. Picking through the ruins of the once-great laboratories, these ghouls began to rebuild. Unaffected by the radiation that blanketed the land, the researchers of the labs resumed their previous lives of scientific discovery, exploring the new realities of their apocalyptic landscape.

The next two centuries saw many changes in the state of New Mexico as life slowly returned to the wastes. The ghoul society thrived in the irradiated Northwest, as more and more ghoulish survivors found their way to what was proving to be a safe haven and utopia for their kind. As the super mutants, remnants of the army of the Master, a great evil that once plagued California, spread eastward in the wake of their defeat, many came to stay with the ghouls, finding refuge and acceptance among their fellow outcasts.

Meanwhile, in the centre of the state, the vaults performed their functions properly and non-irradiated survivors emerged and also began to rebuild their lives. Sandia City was formed around the survivors of Vault 66, who allied with the tribes and gangs that had formed in the wasteland to carve out a thriving fiefdom founded on trade and cooperation – as well as prejudice and slavery.

Other powers moved in to the state as well. The Brotherhood of Steel, descendants of the Old US military, pursued the Master’s army to the state but settled down to guard the ruins of the Trinity site, where nuclear fire first kissed the land. To their east, the vaults of Roswell and Cannon Air Force base united in a strange techno-cult called Hubology, exalting the virtues of space flight and believing fervently in the intervention of extra-terrestrial life.

Inevitably, the factions of New Mexico begin to clash. A grand alliance of tribes called the Legion, formed in the image of a mythical ancient Rome, encroaches from the West, driven by their defeat in Nevada by the New California Republic. The vault-dwellers of Sandia City have begun to clash with Hubologists over the remnants of Route 66 and the trade that runs along it. The Brotherhood, seeing themselves as the one true guardians of technology, frequently clash with both the technophobic Legion and the technophilic Hubologists.

And the ghouls, trapped between the aggressive Legion and the intolerant vault-dwellers, find their lives and land increasingly threatened by a war about to break; the need for resources is greater than ever before. Because war? War never changes.

Too Long To Tweet: Timezones

Recruiter in IL really doesn’t know timezones.
R: “So, you’re an hour ahead of us?”
K: “No, an hour behind.”
R: “Okay, so we’ll do this at 1 your time, noon my time.”
K: “No, that would be 2 your time.”

It’s too bad this is looking to be my best chance at a job in a year.

Update

I guess blogs should have content, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t necessarily be personal, right? It’s not like this is a professional endeavour.

So a few months back I shared my story of unemployment and discrimination. In the ensuing months (and actually, for the past year) I have been seeking new employment in my field. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful in obtaining any; I’ve had several interviews, but have failed to secure employment. I suspect (but cannot prove) that my former employers are spreading word that I am a difficult and insubordinate employee to justify their firing of me, thus sabotaging my efforts to find a new job.

Two weeks ago, I took a 500 mile round trip to have an interview for a position at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. This was the first time I told my side of my story to a potential employer, and it did not go very well. The man I interviewed with did not seem to believe me, and expressed doubts of how I presented my employment history. I knew when I walked out of his office that I would not be getting the position, though he had not said so directly.

This is the last week I will receive any payment from my unemployment insurance; I have essentially been receiving a minimum-wage salary to look for work in my field of expertise instead of having to take whatever job I could find instead, but that ends this week. I will now have to leave behind my ten years of experience and all the training and schooling I went through to be an IT professional and take whatever job will pay me a salary to keep me in food and housing. I will probably start by trying to find a job doing delivery driving, as I also have a fair amount (three years) of experience doing that.

So, just in case you were curious what was up with krellen, that’s what’s up with krellen. He’s going to become some sort of menial job worker in the near future. Life’s funny that way.

The Vampire’s Speech

An explosion rocks the line of men cordoning off the city of Las Vegas from the rest of the country. In the light of the fire, a figure can be seen to leap atop a tank, reaching down to grasp its cannon’s barrel and then, with a great snap, ripping the turret free of the vehicle’s body, proceeding to wield the ungainly assemblage as a club against the surrounding soldiers.

From the blaze emerges a figure cloaked in robes, a hood concealing its features – though a pair of bare feet peek from the bottom of the robe, floating a good foot off the ground with no visible means of support. The figure holds the limp, broken body of a soldier by the throat in one hand, reaching up to throw back its hood with the other. The woman revealed smiles at the soldiers arrayed before her, who seem paralysed with fear.

“Gehenna,” she speaks, voice dripping with ire. “The word fills you with dread, and you don’t even know what it means.”

She tosses the body to the ground, continuing to slowly float towards the assembled soldiers at what would be a languid pace were she walking.

“Some of you may have vague images of a fiery pit, of damnation and torment. Fewer still may recognise it as a reference to Armageddon, the end of days. But I tell you, Gehenna is not a distant spectre, to frighten and cajole the wicked to righteousness. Gehenna is real; Gehenna is now.

“These are the Final Nights.”

She casts her arm wide, the sleeve swirling in the air behind it, holding it before her as if delivering a benediction.

“The Grandchildren stir, their long slumber soon to end. Their foul progeny, the secret masters of your civilisation since time immemorial, weave their own plots, both in service and opposition to masters even more ancient than they. One of the Thirteen has risen already, to be destroyed by those who would stop the inevitable, leaving a wake of destruction that threatens the very foundation of our reality. All with blood in their veins shall be their prey, for they seek strength to oppose an even greater threat.

“The Father is coming.”

Her lips curl in a sneer. “Not your father, Kine, for Seth, like all mortals shall be in time, is truly dead. It is our Father who comes; the Immortal Father: Caine. He shall pass judgement upon his grandchildren, and those of their spawn that stand with them. And He shall find them wanting. He shall find them without remorse, without redemption – for there can be no redemption in a world of sin.

“‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ – and yet, cast stones we do, for we cannot help but sin. The world is sin; born of sin, formed of sin, bathed in sin, cleansed in sin. Entering this world is itself a sin, for which we can never be forgiven. The Almighty has forsaken us, left the world to the devils, for who else deserves the sin that is the world?”

Her eyes narrow, casting a glance that to ever onlooker seems to be into their very soul. “Look into your heart, Kine. Ask yourself: am I without sin?” A pause. “You are not. Those who believe they are without find themselves guilty of the sin of deceit, for they have lied to themselves. All who inhabit this world sin. It is in our very natures.”

She raises a hand towards the sky, where the smoke billows and swirls, obscuring the stars. “And the Father shall judge us as well, He born of sin, sustained by sin, cast out by sin, shall know us by our sins. And only one path to salvation lay before us: to serve the Father. To punish the Grandchildren, and all who would support them. To oppose their rise, to deny their blood, and to destroy their corpses.”

Her arm falls. “Two already have fallen,” and here her arm rises again, holding forth a sword, its tip poised at the soldiers, “for we are the Sword of Caine: the path of salvation, through sin. Take up the blade, or throw yourself upon it; either is preferable to what the Grandchildren will do.”

She drops the tip of the sword, and a horde emerges from the flames, charging the lines.

Transparency of income

Hi! Since Shamus has recently once again linked to my site, you probably popped by looking for something interesting, such as a case talking about money, income, and expenses. Now, a lot of the points Shamus referenced are points I’ve made as comments on his site, but I did write one piece here that goes over some basic reasons why I believe our cultural taboo against talking money needs to die, a piece on my recent (and ongoing) unemployment which some of you might not scroll quite far enough down to see.

But don’t worry about scrolling down. I linked it right up there! Oh look, I just linked it again!

Thought Games: Jedi

As I have been watching the Clone Wars cartoon today, I’ve been thinking a lot about Star Wars, and given the last batch of posts I made, I started thinking about how to systemise the Force – I’ve always felt that the various systems that already existed for Star Wars were somewhat lacking; the West End Games d6-based system has numerous balance problems, and the d20 Saga edition, while somewhat better, still leaves things to be desired.

And then I thought about it, and realised that Jedi are superheroes. Therefore, clearly, Mutants and Masterminds is the best system to build them in. I did some rough calculations on a notepad while watching, and Jedi aren’t even very expensive; most aspects of the Force can be bought for less than two power levels worth of points, and a lightsabre only costs one more. Jedi could probably be PL 5 characters.

So now I’ll attempt to build Anakin Skywalker as he appears in the Clone Wars cartoon at power level 5 – with a caveat that allows bonuses as if he were power level 10.

Continue reading

DnD: Partial Levels

So I asked my DnD group this evening if they’d be interested in this idea, and they asked that I write it up so they could see it in the cold light of day (our Dutchman wanted to go to sleep).  So here’s a proposed system for doling out DnD level-ups in a smoother method, rather than having sudden blips of power increase.

Credit for the basics of this idea goes to Dungeons and Dragons Online, which implemented “Action Points” as a sort of mini-level-up.

Whenever a character achieves 1/4th of the experience needed to reach the next level, they can partially advance in a class.  Which class they are taking as their next level must be chosen at the first of these landmarks in any given level, and that class choice cannot change until a full level increase has been reached.  At each partial advancement, they may choose one of four aspects of the class to increase: bonuses, hit points, skill points, or class features.

Now, I know none of my players are this joker, but just in case this joker shows up and starts being a smart ass: a character must choose all four of these options on the way to a full level increase.  One cannot pick bonuses four times while taking partial advancements; once a particular choice has been made, it is unavailable to pick again until the next full level increase.

Picking bonuses increases the character’s base attack and save bonuses as they would increase with a full level.  No other benefits are added.

Picking hit points increases the character’s total hit points as they would increase with a full level, and any level-based increases in attributes that would be rewarded by a full level increase.  No other benefits are added.

Picking skill points increases the character’s skill points as well as maximum skill ranks as they would increase with a full level.  No other benefits are added.

Picking class features would award any additional class features – rogue sneak attack, fighter bonus feats, special abilities, or spells known and caster level – that would be gained with a full level increase.  This also includes any level-based feats that would normally be granted with a full level increase.

(It should be noted that these four choices leave nothing out; the final, fourth choice results in a full level increase with no lingering parts to add aside from the aspects of the final choice.)

I as DM would keep track of when partial advancements would be due, as well as which options (and classes) players had already chosen.