Today is 2/2 and is the very first New Game Day. In honour if this celebration, I’ve released some quick-start and quick-play resources for my new rules-light science-fantasy game – Arkfall. If you’re looking for a new game, Arkfall is one you can get for free and play immediately.
Arkfall is post-apocalyptic science fantasy World of Dungeons/Mutants featuring Planarch Codex heritage moves.
The World Ark was a massive starship that harvested beings and shards of reality from countless worlds. Then it crashed and all that was strewn and mingled across this vast new planet. Since then, the inhabitants have bred and generations have passed. People have rebuilt and old worlds and cultures combine, clash and evolve. Everyone (including the PCs) has weird mixed heritages. Nanites are used as currency and levels of self-augmentation are one thing they can be spent on.
– uses heritage moves to make bizarre PC races
– dead magic world, but technology emulates magic
– levelling up is not mandatory; instead of XP and coins, nanites are currency your characters can spend on stuff, including levels of self-augmentation
– includes a list of chems and their effects
– lore skill reskinned as ‘culture’ to emphasise that anything worth knowing on Arkfall has cultural significance to someone
– includes a few starting scenarios, quests and jobs
– includes an example move for PC flashbacks
If you read or play Arkfall or make something for it, I’d love to hear your feedback (also if you spot any typos, inconsistencies or things that are unclear). Also, it’s Creative Commons (CC-BY) so if you see something you like – or don’t – go nuts, use it, change it, whatever 🙂
Huge thanks to John Harper, Jonathan Walton and Jürgen Mayer for allowing me to use parts of their awesome, inspiring creations.
Fae were once creatures of forests and brooks. Our world has moved on and the fae have not disappeared, but adapted to modern times. Fae are capricious creatures that feed on emotion. All fae love to cause frustration, but many have a handful of favoured emotions that they prefer to feed off, though any emotion will often sate them, at least for a time.
Taggers are deviant anarchists who feed on curiosity, anarchy, unlawfulness and the flustered emotions of the uptight. Graffiti and tattoos are their speciality, and they can create ink or paint at will, but they also like carving things into desks and trees. Taggers try to emulate humans speech patterns in their graffiti, but most have only a tenuous grasp of language and grammar causing their messages to come across as if written by a sexually frustrated teenager.
Viruses, static on the line, dropped connections, and other malfunctions in machines and computers are often caused by glitches, electric fae who can manipulate data and energy. Frustration, confusion and crushed hopes are the emotions that glitches seek to elicit.
Offspring of taggers and glitches, trolls are annoying fae that spend most of their time leaving inflamatory or nonsensical messages in Internet forums, video comments and emails. They feed on frustration, annoyance, righteousness, fury and gullibility.
Bumps in the night are patient lurkers. They cause the sounds and sights in the night that make their targets paranoid: floorboards creaking, doors and windows rattling, a flicker of shadow, the shape of an unfamiliar figure in the darkness. Bumps cause all these and drink in the fear and paranoia stirred up by their prolonged scares.
Lights and electircal appliances flicker, overheat and explode, forest fires start out of nowhere, batteries leak and melt, smoke alarms go off when there’s no smoke. The sadistic sparks – derogatively called ‘firebugs’ – get off on the shock, fear and confusion their actions cause. If they create mass panic with a widespread fire, all the better.
Nothing is ever truly clean with dusties around; they wait for someone to clean and then zoom past, their powdery wings and touch covering every surface in dust again. They revel in the feelings of futility, frustration, embarrassment and shame this creates in humans.
Odd socks, missing keys and spectacles, things moved from one room to another. All these are the results of hoardlings. These fae move around houses, offices and other places full of human objects and move or steal them to frustrate, confuse and anger.
Weedies cause potholes, cracks in the pavements, and weeds in gardens and other surfaces. Weedies send up weeds in perfect flower beds, or where nothing else will grow. They also crack roads and pavements and cave them in. They mainly feed on frustration.
Scrappers cause machines to break with no apparent reason. They cause machines to suddenly start working again when someone knowledgeable approaches them, then break again once they leave. Scrappers love causing many machines in a household to break all at once, and are especially fond of breaking machines just after their warranty runs out. Frustration, confusion, rage and futility are their main sources of sustenance.
Recreature is an ongoing series of posts re-imagining classic creatures.
Beings of roots and tubers, gnomes have a boundless and seemingly cruel curiosity when it comes to non-fey creatures of flesh. Gnomes will poke, pull, gnaw, tear, snap, crush, strangle and dismember animals and people with little to no provocation. Sometimes these attacks appear experimental, as if attempting to understand the strange flesh. Just as often, though, gnomes attack in a fury – perhaps enraged by this same lack of understanding.
Also unclear is whether gnomes need blood to survive, or just find it intriguing. Either way, they almost always stop after a kill to soak up their victim’s blood with their roots, giving their curved heads – or “caps” – their distinctive red colouration. Gnomes without red caps haven’t soaked for a while and are likely eager to do so.
Gnomes have excellent night vision and decent daylight vision, despite their eyes being apparently nothing more than puckered divots. From time to time, these sunken pits grow small white sprouts similar to the eyes of a potato. Eventually, the sprouts drop into the dirt where they will grow into new gnomes. While sprouting, gnomes fluctuate between being very elusive and carrying out quick and brutal attacks, soaking up as much blood as possible before retreating into hiding again.
The dynamics of gnome society are not very well understood; the creatures are often encountered alone but they frequently live and work together. Sprouting gnomes often remain stationery, even rooting themselves into the ground for sustenance and to heal, as all gnomes can. Other gnomes attack in groups and bring back bloody carcasses for the rooted gnome.
Gnomes often live in forests, but make their warrens wherever plants grow and the earth is not too hard. Due to mortal settlements encroaching on the forests, many a farmer has dug up a bed of carrots or potatoes only to find some sleeping gnomes. Gnomes disturbed in such a way let out an ear-piercing shriek so loud it can burst internal organs and bring most anyone to their knees in crippling pain, at least until they get over the initial shock. Gnomes also use this shriek as a last defence or a surprise attack when waylaying travellers.
Usually, however, gnomes attack with their sharp thorny teeth and claws, the latter of which are perfect for digging and burrowing. Some gnome warrens have extensive networks of tunnels which can appear overnight. Gnome colonies working together have even been known to undermine farmland and roads, causing the ground to collapse under the weight of larger creatures. One final defensive measure is the gnome’s poisonous body. Most animals know – or soon learn – not to eat gnomes, and generally give them a wide berth.
More subtle gnomes sometimes leave root-like limbs around in the hopes that animals or children won’t recognise the source of the small root before consuming it. It is rare, but there is more than one tale of a whole village falling when gnomes have sprinkled their hacked up dead or their own severed limbs in tavern stews – poisoning all who eat the food, while simply growing their limbs back later, rooted in fertile or blood-soaked soil.
OK, Story Games global brain trust, let’s make skeletons cool and unnerving. What are the key components in skeletonry? What will make them badass and memorable? I want players to pee their pants when they hear that dry rattling down the corridor, not snicker and pull out their blunt smashing tools.
It’s a great thread, full of inspiring posts. Check it out. People offered up some very cool inspiring ideas. I was struck with a new take on skeletons, which I wrote up and posted on the forum. I’ve talked about reskinning monsters before; this thread focused on revamping and reimaginging them instead. Click that link or read on for the forum post in full, a cool reply from Jason Morningstar and a Dungeon World move for these new ‘Mockingbardian Skeletons’, as Jason has dubbed them.
First off, my forum post (I go by Mockingbard on the forums):
Here are the posts I drew inspiration from:
POSTED BY: KRIPPLER
Skeletons with eyeballs. Some of them do not match. They have many blind friends who are eager to recieve a fresh pair. Some skin, a heart, intestines and genitals would be nice as well and a brain for those trixy plans.
Posted By: ivan
You will find skeletons stuck in a loop of repetitive obsessive painfully pointless behaviors, while at the same time trying to preserve a mockery of humanity by wearing fine clothes and trying to fill themselves with the entrails of their victims to look alive.
Posted By: C. Edwards
Skeletons can see only the past and any living thing they encounter appears as a vision of horror, hatred, or pain from their former lives. They speak among themselves in a complex language of clicks, clacks and scratches. Gathering in long-forgotten places, skeletons have grand balls where they parade, spin and cavort to music only they can hear.
Posted By: Jason Morningstar
I like the idea of personalizing them.
Then I posted…
I love all the comments here, but these ones fit best with an idea I’ve had while reading this inspiring thread.
Skeletons constantly recall the happiest (or most memorably emotional) moments of their lives, and while no living creature is around they can indulge in this fantasy. Once adventurers arrive in all their fleshy glory, the skeletons’ lack of life becomes clear, the dream is shattered and the skeletons blame the living intruders. Skeletons attack with their hands and teeth, even if using weapons they try to grab you.
Upon being touched by a skeleton, their memories flood into you: playing with their children in a park; marrying their wife; the satisfaction of a hard day’s labour and drinks with friends at the tavern. Their touch also saps the flesh from your bones; it crawls off your bones and onto the skeleton, restoring it to a semblance of life but in your guise (or a strange mongrel mix of many people it has sapped). It’s disguise is nowhere near perfect. It holds up as human from a distance, but close inspection reveals some irregularities, and it begins falling apart within hours or days. They can’t talk, but make rough, throaty noises and their eyes are unfocused or work independently. They can look sort of normal but always kinda wrong or creepy. Like they’re wearing an Edgar suit.
If the skeleton saps enough flesh to become whole again it seeks out living people and tries to recreate its memories. It approaches children in a park; it crashes a wedding, believing itself to be the groom; it pulls up a chair at a tavern and joins the living there, pouring a drink down its disconnected throat. In close proximity it doesn’t take long for others to realise something is wrong. In defence or in anger at the spoiled recreations of its memories, it attacks, drains more flesh and moves on to find another place where it can try again to relive its memories. Hopefully those adventurers it attacked but didn’t kill will use the flashes of its memories they saw to work out where it would go and track it down.
Jason liked the idea…
Posted By: Jason Morningstar
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Super cool. I like the way you’ve synthesized interesting ideas from this thread.
…and extrapolated on it:
I’d also point out that Mockingbardian Skeletonsknow stuff– they remember important details of their lives and transmit that to their victims. So it is easy to imagine circumstances in which a seeker of knowledge might hunt down the living skeleton of the ancient King of the Nau Tuchaninut Dwarves and willingly accept his dry embrace…at least for a little while. But the meat-head who smashes the old King to bits isn’t just destroying a threat, he’s erasing vital and irreplaceable knowledge of the past. Which of the Three Elven Regents was given the Rod of Selka the Arbiter at the old Dwarf’s coronation five hundred years ago? The fate of a kingdom rests on knowing.
Marhsall Miller made a Dungeon World move for “Mockingbardian Skeletons”:
Posted By: mease19
When a skeleton touches your skin, roll+WIS. On a 10+, you see this place as it once was and the skeleton shows you why it is here and what it wants. On a 7-9, the GM will write down why it is here and what it wants on a sheet of paper, tear it in half, and offer you one of the halves.
This was a great thread and I’m happy my contributions were so well received. People are still adding cool stuff to it, so make sure you head over, check it out and add to it if you’re so inclined. Feel free to use the Mockingbardian Skeletons in your own games. And check out the related Concerning Sirens thread that has just started up.
Savage Worlds again, while I’m on a roll. Here is a race for all you savages out there. Satyrs! But not as you know them. Physically, they’re humanoid goats, not goat-legged humans. In fact, they look exactly like this. In addition, they’re much meaner and gruffer than satyrs are generally thought to be and have a bit of a darker edge – like all fey should!
I created these satyrs to serve as grunts and enforcers for the more important fey in my world, but also as a playable race with adventuring motivation built right in. Also, if you don’t like dwarves, or just want a break from them, these satyrs can fill their role quite easily.
Satyrs are a race of goat-like humanoid fey standing seven or eight feet tall – plus a foot or two of horns – and are covered in short coarse hair ranging from grey to brown with the occasional white or black satyr. Satyrs are tough and lean with strong goat legs with backwards bending knees and hoofed feet, humanoid arms and hands, and the heads of goats, complete with goat ears and eyes and two black backwards curving horns.
Satyrs live anywhere fey make their homes and are often drawn to human towns and cities for work, the nightlife and to observe the alluring humans. When living apart from humans and other fey, satyrs live primarily in mountain ranges, where their physiques allow them to survive and thrive in the harsh conditions.
Satyrs utilise natural caves and rock formations as shelter, and when a satyr population is big enough they even carve these homes out further, establishing permanent settlements. Smaller herds of satyrs are nomadic, generally travelling mountains in search of food.
Food is rarely a problem though, as while satyrs are voracious, they will literally eat anything their hardy teeth can chew through – raw meat and bones, cloth, wood, even leather – though they prefer roots and tough vegetables.
One thing that can keep satyrs closer to plains and lowlands is their great love of wine. They are known as great vintners, fiercely protecting their vineyards and wine making secrets.
Satyrs are a gruff and dour race of fey who work hard at everything they do and pride themselves on their loyalty and commitment. It takes a lot to gain a satyr’s trust and friendship, but those who win one over earn a life-long and fiercely loyal ally.
Satyrs make excellent guards and soldiers and have a reputation as stern creatures – easily angered, but usually able to keep their reactions in check, arresting lawbreakers rather than killing them with their powerful kicks or deadly horns.
In fact, satyrs are driven by an urge to work, getting restless and even more irritable when they have nothing to do. Satyrs often wander from town to town, offering their services to anyone who will have them. Due to this tendency, satyrs can be found almost anywhere, acting as labourers, guards, mercenaries or warriors.
However, when off duty, satyrs play even harder than they work. In fact, the concept of revelling is core to the beliefs and lives of satyrs. Satyrs love drinking, especially wine, and their harsh exteriors soften as soon as they begin to drink. Revelling satyrs laugh hard and easily, bleating loudly and stomping their hooves.
During a revel, satyrs are far less able to keep their emotions under control, and an offended revelling satyr can quickly become a dangerous threat. Satyrs of both sexes – bucks and does – have a great lust for humans, and when in a revel they easily succumb to these urges that they keep suppressed while on duty. Revelling satyrs will almost always approach humans first, but if turned away, they often satisfy their lust with other satyrs, or through fighting, more drink or getting back to hard work.
Children born of unions between satyrs and humans are always the same race as the mother and usually possess some traits of the father – these are only personality traits in satyr children, while human children may also be excessively hairy, or have goat ears, goat eyes or club-feet.
Unfortunate human mothers who have coupled with a satyr may give birth to a goat. If this kid survives the often traumatic birth it usually has a short life, but will be abnormally intelligent. Such mothers and “children” are usually shunned as tainted by the darkest aspects of fey nature. Indeed, human mothers of goats often develop magical abilities after the birth.
Size +1: Satyrs are larger and tougher than humans.
Strong: Satyrs are lean and strong. They start with a d6 Strength attribute instead of a d4.
Horns & Hooves: Satyr horns and hooves each do Str+d6 damage, and the hooves grant +2 to Climb rolls on all but completely sheer surfaces.
Mean: Satyrs are gruff and ill-tempered. Even when revelling, a satyr’s joy can quickly turn to anger. Satyrs like to work hard and play hard, and are even more irritable when they miss out on either. Even on the best days, satyrs are stern folk. All satyrs suffer -2 to Charisma.
Loyal: Satyrs take a long time to trust anyone, but they will never abandon a friend in need if there is any chance of helping them. Satyrs often also work for an authority, and will obey all their laws – at least while on duty.
Revelry: If a satyr is off duty and there is alcohol available he is driven to drink and revel. During such revelry, he has difficulty keeping his emotions under control, is quick to anger if offended, and will lust after humans and satyrs. If turned away, the satyr will likely be angered, turning to more drink, violence or strenuous work.
This game references the Savage Worlds game system, available from Pinnacle Entertainment Group at www.peginc.com. Savage Worlds and all associated logos and trademarks are copyrights of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Used with permission. Pinnacle makes no representation or warranty as to the quality, viability, or suitability for purpose of this product.
Goddess of the Eleventh Hour, Queen of Witches, the Crone Goddess of witchcraft, revenge, disease, death Alignment: NE Domains: Death, Evil, Knowledge, Magic, Repose Favoured Weapon: Magic or sickle
From a young age children are taught to fear Rhoga Jezeda, lest she come in the night and eat them. But as the children grow into adults their fear does not fade. It is said that Rhoga Jezeda knows the time and circumstances of the death of every living thing. She is also called the Goddess of the Eleventh Hour, as it is believed that she can hold back and divert death or bring it swiftly down upon her victims before their proper time.
Rhoga Jezeda is the most powerful of all witches and her sway over death does not end at preventing or hastening it. If the whispers are to be believed, followers of the Queen of Witches can beseech their goddess to raise the dead, imbuing a body with a mindless spirit, enslaving the walking dead to the witch’s will. Some believe that Rhoga Jezeda lays claim to the souls of the wicked, those who are not given proper burial rites, and those who die of disease, as a victim of vengeance, or with a desire for revenge in their hearts.
Rhoga Jezeda is the mistress of disease and those witches who take up the mantle of plaguebearer are said to bring living ruin to their bodies and devastation to all they meet, spreading infection and pestilence wherever they go. However, as she spreads disease, so can Rhoga Jezeda stave it off.
Poppets are the tools of the goddess and carers of the sick who are out of hope may fill one with spices, flowers and some small portion of the person they wish to heal – blood, nails or hair – and hang it above the bed of the stricken, offering prayers to the Witch Queen, begging her to draw the sickness away. Rumours say that if such prayers are successful the disease does not disappear but is sent down on the head of another. Others say that a prayer answered by the Goddess of the Eleventh Hour draws death closer to the one who called upon her, shaving years off their lives. Despite this, many who fear Rhoga Jezeda still turn to her in times of desperation.
Revenge is another tool of the Queen of Witches and she hears the dark desires of those who seek vengeance. Some even say that thoughts of vengeance are the whispers of Rhoga Jezeda and that each act of revenge makes her stronger. Those seeking revenge craft a poppet to represent a specific person and fill it with a portion of themselves and of the person who they wish to harm. Afterwards, they inflict on the doll the harm they wish to see befall their foe. If the desired fate cannot be depicted this way, strong thoughts are said to suffice.
Many pursue this path as a method of private revenge, not believing that their acts of violence on the poppet would actually manifest on their victim. Most often, the poppet is filled only with straw, eschewing the supposedly vital elements. However, when ill fortune befalls those who are known to have wronged someone, whispers of poppets and witchcraft are usually quick to follow. Some say that the Witch Queen revels in revenge and asks no payment for it. However, like with the casting out of disease, other rumours persist that the Witch Queen cuts short the lifelines of those who call upon her for revenge.
For those who pray to Rhoga Jezeda not to placate the Crone, but in true worship of her, the spreading of disease and practice of witchcraft appear to be the common means of veneration. Rhoga Jezeda sees and manipulates the threads of the future and her followers often seem to have a strange assurance of what is to come. Some say that her followers spend much of their time ensuring that the future Rhoga Jezeda favours comes to pass. Witches who reside near other settlements often also craft poppets, charms, tonics, powders, cure-alls and elixirs to offer to those in need, furthering the influence of witchcraft by preying on desperate souls.
Rhoga Jezeda is depicted as an ancient wrinkled crone, often holding a poppet and an hourglass and peering into a black cauldron. The Goddess of the Eleventh Hour is also commonly shown brandishing a gleaming pair of silver scissors and contemplating an intricate web of threads of lives and fate. She is always depicted with a clouded right eye which is blind to the present but with which she sees the future.
The Queen of Witches features in many children’s stories and is usually shown living in a deep dark forest, the crowded shelves of her hovel lined with books of witchcraft and vile recipes as well as jars and bottles of horrid ingredients. Rhoga Jezeda has no true symbol by which her servants recognise each other, but the blinding of the right eye and wearing a poppet or a pair of scissors around the neck or waist is a common sign of a devoted witch.