Posted in Menagerie

9 Frustrating Modern Fae

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

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.

Glitches

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.

Trolls

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

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.

Sparks

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.

Dusties

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.

Hoardlings

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

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

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.

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Posted in Settings

Setting: Spark of Youth

Here’s an outline of another campaign setting I’ve been working on. Feel free to use and alter it as you wish. If you do use it or have some ideas about it, I’d love to hear them.


Inspiration: Ender’s GameLord of the FliesDark Angel, Neon Genesis Evangelion

It is said that the spark is in all of us, yet by the end of puberty it is gone. It is not known why, but children have a strong connection to the power of the spark. It flows in them in ways still not fully understood by adults.

Very young children use the spark sporadically, for play and their own simple purposes, without thought. As children grow older, they begin to understand their powers better, using them consciously and with more control. Around age 10 for girls and 12 for boys, Transition begins.

Children undergo many physical and psychological changes during this stage and it is when their spark is at is peak, very powerful and unpredictable.

Transition is a stressful and strange time for children and many lose control of their magic as the power flares and fluctuates, burning brightly before it is snuffed out entirely. Girls usually complete the Transition by ages 15-17, while boys usually complete it by ages 16-18. After this, the spark is dead forever.

Because adults are unable to harness magic, children are highly valued for their abilities. Many children do not utilise the spark effectively and are more dangerous to themselves than others, or are merely an annoyance. However, children of particular talent and power are recruited into harsh military programs to perfect their control over the spark and harden them into tools of war. Children are taught from a young age that fighting for their faction is the highest honour and the greatest deed that one could hope for. Propaganda floods the schools, homes and streets, and armies recruit children as young as 8 to train to fight their horrendous battles.

Every year, new drugs are trialled in attempts to keep children young and keep their spark alive for as long as possible. Experiments are conducted upon children’s brains, leaving many permanently damaged or worse, in attempts to unlock the secrets of the spark. Some believe that it is the mental state of children that is the key to their power, and so they experiment on the mentally disabled as an alternative route to the answers they seek.

Schools are hotbeds of propaganda but some children catch on or have different ideas and sow the seeds of rebellion. Such children meet in secret after classes to discuss what the adults are really up to, what the war is all about, how they are developing in their talents, and what they will do to avoid being recruited. Groups of children roam adult cities and towns as rebels, vigilantes or criminals, using their powers however they see fit.

Rumour has it that there are hidden towns out in the wilderness populated entirely by children. Gangs of teenagers rule these child towns and the children live however they can free from the control of adults, but left to their own devices to learn about the radical changes they are going through.

Growing up is hard enough, but children must deal with the normal trials and tribulations of puberty – sexuality, friendship, bullying, and growing up – as well as the great unstable power that they wield, its consequences and the reality of life after the Transition: when their power fades and they find themselves as young adults in a world that considers them past their use-by-date.

Posted in Settings

Setting: Hang Ups

Hang Ups is a random idea I had for a campaign setting. I haven’t played any or read much of InSpectres, but I have the feeling that Hang Ups could serve as an alternate setting for that system. Primetime Adventures, Spirit of the Century, Savage Worlds, or Otherkind Dice would work really well too. I’m looking forward to playing this one with my group this year for a few sessions.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

Emergency services are inundated with calls that they terminate because they appear to be pranks or non-emergencies. Stuff about aliens and werewolves. That kind of thing.

That’s where Hang Ups comes in.

They’re an independent (and not technically legal) group that intercepts these abandoned calls and sifts through them for seeds of truth. Armed with their knowledge of the paranormal, they respond to potentially legitimate calls to help those that the authorities ignore.

Hang Ups is a rag-tag group of people with various reasons for chasing after crazy-sounding emergency calls. Some might be bored, some might be slackers in this for a quick buck (ha, good luck!), others might be UFO nuts, disgraced scientists, or former law enforcers or agents who got kicked to the curb for looking too deep. I imagine that you’d have a very diverse group of people at Hang Ups. Also, they probably just work out of a warehouse, apartment or basement.

Getting the Call

I see this game as a good one for getting players involved in building the story. I plan to begin sessions like this: first, I’ll ask who’s the Operator for this game. This position will rotate through all the players. The Operator roleplays listening in on the emergency calls. In-game, it’s a pretty boring job and the character will probably be sitting there for hours on end until they find a call that might be true. But out of game, it should be a lot of fun.

What happens is, each player roleplays some NPC placing a call to emergency services. As the GM, it’s your job to ask a few questions to dig for a little information, and then brush them off as a prank caller. It’s the privilege of the Operator to select which call to take. Get a few calls from the players, and then when the Operator has heard them all, or hears one she really likes, she should jump in and “pick up” the call.

After this, the player who placed the call gets to fill in some sketchy details from the NPC, who is likely frightened/drunk/dishevelled/etc. The Operator gets to ask questions. Other players can offer questions, but it’s up to the Operator whether she asks them now or not.

Here’s an example of Getting the Call:

GM: “Okay, so it’s Joe’s turn to be the Operator this week”
Joe: “Sweet! Okay, I’m on the couch, kicking back with the headphones on”
GM: “Alright. Montage time. The calls are rolling in. There’s the usual junk, but a few perk your interest…”

[GM looks around the table for anyone with an idea. Clara puts her fingers to the side of her head like she’s on a phone.]

GM: “Emergency services. What is your emergency?”
Clara: “Uh… hi. Um… there’s something outside my house making these weird noises”.
GM: “Could you describe the noises?”
Clara: “Yeah… like, um… growls. But they don’t sound right.”
GM: “What do they sound like?”
Clara: “I don’t know… it’s not a dog, I don’t think. Maybe a bear? But it sounds sick or something. I can hear it moving in the bushes! My neighbour, he’s been working late nights on something in his garage. I see smoke and light and stuff coming from there and sometimes I hear animal noises. Wait… there it is again! Please send someone, quick!”
GM: *click* [Hangs up]

Joe: “Ooh, is he making a monster? Hmm…”

GM: “Emergency services. What is your emergency?”
Gavin: “Yo, dude. Dude! They’re, like… everywhere, man! Seriously!”
GM: “Sir, could you please explain the nature of your emergency”
Gavin: “Everywhere, man. All these… like… cocoon things, you know? Some nights they’re there. Some night’s they’re not. They’re there now, though. They glow and stuff. Oh… no way! No way! Some of them are hatching or something! What the hell is that!? Dude, you gotta get someone over here! Hello?”
GM: *click* [Hangs up]

Joe: “Haha, these are great!”

GM: “Emergency services. What is your emergency?”
Beth: “They’re in the computer!”
GM: “Madam, could you please explain the nature of your emergency”
Beth: “Beings… of electricity. I see them, crackling. It’s stormy tonight. That’s when they come out. It’s like… glitches in the computer screen. But also, my lights go on and off. Uncle Mort says it reminds him of something, the way it flickers. He’s been having dreams, he says, in the storms. My phone rings and I hear crackling. I feel like they’re watching me. I just got home and saw my lights flicking on and off. I can’t find Mr. Fluffy… what’s that burning smell?”
GM: *click* [Hangs up]

Joe: “Awesome, guys. I think I’m gonna go with cocoons. I wanna know what’s hatching out of there!”

Gavin: “Yes!”
Clara: “Cool. I liked that one too!”
Beth: “Aww, we’ll have to wait till some other time to find out if Mr. Fluffy is okay. I’m in though. Sounds good!”

GM: [in a recorded-sounding voice] “Please hold, you are being transferred to Special Priority Emergency Services Unit”
Joe: “Special Priority Emergency Services Unit. Sir, could you tell us more about these cocoons?”
Gavin: “Yeah, no worries, man. You really gotta see this…”
[Here, we ‘fade to black’. It’s assumed that the caller keeps explaining what little he knows about the situation, but it’s the GM’s job to come up with these details on the fly to keep the players excited and guessing. That’s half the fun for everyone: players make the seed of the story and the GM improvises as the game progress.]

Answering the Call

After you get the call, you respond. Here is where the real fun begins. Who knows how legitimate the call is? Can it be explained with science? Is it really something supernatural? Will the real authorities end up on the scene too, having never heard of this ‘Special Priority Emergency Services Unit’? Is the threat a physical danger? Can the Hang Ups take it down with whatever weapons and tools they legally (or not) have managed to get their hands on?

Most importantly, how are they going to get paid, this time? Are they going to ask for a ‘call out fee’? Will they take something valuable as ‘evidence’? Will they admit that they’re a group of vigilantes who need to keep food on their table?

Once the mission is done, the Hang Ups head back to base, swap Operators and do it all again.

When I present this to my players, I’ll explain most of this as we go. If you know of a system that’d be good for Hang Ups, or if you give it a shot, feel free to chime in below. I’d love to hear any other comments too or potential calls. I think I hear the phone ringing…