Saturday, June 20, 2020

Kaiju in the Survival Paradigm

Welcome back to the world of the Survival Paradigm. For over a decade, humanity has faced the end, and grimly sent its bravest martyrs clad in shining steel and blazing cannon to defend the planet against impossible monsters. That's what the propaganda channels blare, that's what you see in the movies, that's what the TacNet registration posters proclaim. Become a pilot. Build your armor. Save the world.

They lie. We aren't brave, we're desperate to pay rent. We aren't martyrs, we're bodies sent into the meat grinder. We aren't armed with the newest toys or the toughest armor, we've scraped together pre-war armament and secondhand scraps of metal and processor into the only hope that Earth has left. They pay us shit, then leave us to die - if not at the claws of a kaiju, then under the weight of medical debt.

But we have no choice. Our families, our communities, our friends - they're all counting on someone standing between them and the eschaton. And there's no help coming from the corps, from the billionaires, from their pet governments. They've decided we're a sacrifice they're willing to make, and it doesn't even dent their portfolios.

We've fought this stalemate for over a decade. We're tired. But we can't hang it up, because if we do, you all - we all - die.

This is off the record, right?

Shit, my phone buzzed. Category 3 inbound - and yep, there's the klaxons. Get to the shelters. I've got to saddle up.

The Battle
by Kouji Tajima

The battlefield is divided into around 10 zones, spanning an area based on the size of the kaiju. A category 1 threatens a city district; a category 5 threatens a major metropolitan area. If you're in the zone the kaiju is, you're within its melee range. Ranged attacks can target zones adjacent to the attacker. Each zone may have a hazard in it. Any number of mechs or kaiju can exist in the same zone.


Roll initiative at start of the battle. You're either on First Response (before the kaiju) or Cleanup (after it). If you pass your check, you pick which you act in. If you fail, you end up on Cleanup. While this doesn't change round-to-round, you can spend an action to reroll your initiative for the rest of the battle.


You don't need to roll to hit a kaiju (abilities like CAMOUFLAGE notwithstanding). Even the smallest are bigger than the broad side of a barn. Can't miss it. Pick one of the kaiju's abilities you want to damage, and roll your weapon's damage dice. Then, remove the highest (CATEGORY - 1) dice (a category 1 removes 0 dice, a category 2 removes 1, etc) and all dice ARMOR or lower.

For example, using a weapon that deals 5d6 damage against a Category 4 kaiju with 2 armor and rolling 3, 3, 4, 5, 1 - you'll remove the highest 3 dice (5, 4, 3) and the 1, dealing 3 damage total. You're tiny. It's giant. Get used to futile efforts.

On a failed ability roll, the kaiju will expose the ability as a Weak Point until its next turn, for which category resistances no longer apply. Attack it for massive damage.

- - - IT BLEEDS LIKE WE DO - - -

Kaiju ability scores double as health. Attacks target specific abilities, and damage dealt reduces the the ability score by that amount. Therefore, as the kaiju takes damage, its capabilities will deteriorate. Whenever an ability is reduced to 0, the kaiju takes a Wound. Wounds will further harm the kaiju, but also empower it as its rage consumes it. This occurs even when its last ability is reduced to 0, as its death throes let it strike one last time.

Wounds (d6)
1. Berzerk Mode. The Kaiju immediately takes an extra turn.
2. Core Vent. At the start of its next turn, the Kaiju releases a blast of energy that deals 2*CATEGORYd10 damage to everyone in the same zone as it and destroys any setpieces in the zone.
3. Defense Mode. The Kaiju's armor increases by 2 until it's next wounded.
4. Havoc Scream. The Kaiju's screams panic all in earshot. Evac level gets worse by 1. -2 Response Strength.
5. Mutation. The Kaiju spontaneously develops a new ability with a score of 10. That ability doesn't cause a Wound when reduced to 0.
6. Storm Warning. A natural disaster emerges in the Kaiju's wake (acid rain, meteor storm, vast earthquake, EM disturbance, whatever makes sense based on the Kaiju's abilities). Lasts CATEGORY rounds. Deals 1d10 damage or equivalent effects to any mech exposed.

- - - TARGET ON THE MOVE - - -

A Kaiju takes 3 actions on its turn. It can only take each type of action once, unless otherwise specified. It gets one basic move to an adjacent zone, and one basic attack. All others must either be ability rolls or dependent on environmental conditions. Some abilities provide extra movement or attacks (for example, EXCEPTIONAL SPEED provides extra moves, while all RANGED ATTACK abilities allow for bonus attacks one or more zones away from the kaiju). An ability can only be used once per turn, unless otherwise specified.


Basic kaiju attacks deal CATEGORYd10 damage to a target in melee range, plus an extra effect based on the kaiju's name and abilities (like flaming claws, or a multi-target cleave, or grabbing the target). The mech pilot may roll to dodge the damage, but the extra effect occurs unless you have specific defenses against it. Such defenses can be gained by taking action to protect yourself on your turn, having on-board systems to counteract the effect, or by being shielded by a building, another mech, etc.


Kaiju abilities have a score from 1-20 and are roll-under; equal to or less than the ability score is a success, over is a failure. If a kaiju fails an ability roll, the ability has minimal effect (which can still be devastating), and is exposed as a weak point until the start of its next turn. Attacks on weak points ignore Category resistances.

Abilities with scores 10 or higher are visible on long-range scanners and known to the players if they have any intel access through TacNet, sponsors, local newspapers, etc.

Abilities with starting scores under 10 are hidden, and the kaiju will only deploy them once the pilots have engaged it in battle. The first use of a hidden ability automatically succeeds. If a kaiju has nothing but hidden abilities remaining, so the pilots can't target anything in particular, attack damage is evenly distributed between them.

by guthrie art
The World


A city under kaiju attack is chaos. While the best efforts of world governments and corporate coalitions have created nominal best practices for civilian response (as pilots gear up to face the monster head-on), when the klaxons blare, all bets are off. There's never enough bunkers. There's never enough space on the roads. There's rarely enough warning; some attacks occur within mere minutes of contact.

Here's how everything can, and does, go wrong.


The combat zone can be in one of the following stages of evacuation, in ascending order of prospective casualty count.

Evac Level
1. Barren. Total evacuation success. The only casualties will be pilots and monsters. Go nuts.
2. Bunkers. All civilians evacuated to subterranean shelters. They will only be lost to specifically targeted kaiju attacks, or in the event of your failure.
3. Partial. Many civilians failed or refused to evacuate. The streets are silent and empty as civilians shelter in place. Every kaiju ability use kills 10^CATEGORY civilians.
4. Panic. Traffic jams clog the highways. Looting. Riots. Police brutality. Military crackdown. Every kaiju movement or ability without a specific target kills 10^CATEGORY civilians. Additional complications will arise as the government attempts to maintain "order".
5. Taken Unawares. Jaws hang open. Screams and sirens. Airwaves are jammed with farewell calls. Every kaiju action that doesn't have a specific target kills d10*10^CATEGORY civilians.


The players are rarely the only force defending against the attack. They're by default assumed to be in tactical command of the situation; other mechs won't fuck with your op (unless you've pissed them off prior and they're looking to settle a score). Instead, other mechs' existence is a constant attrition battle against the kaiju. At the end of each combat round, after Cleanup, roll 2d6 on the Response Table and add the Response Strength to see how the other mechs involved fared.

Response Strength begins at the party's average level minus the Kaiju's CATEGORY. This will change to a reputation score later, once I've got that all hashed out.

Response Table (2d6+Response Strength)
2. Wiped Out. The players are on their own. More names for the memorial obelisk.
3. Last Ditch Barrage. d10 damage to the Kaiju's weakest known ability. -2 Response Strength.
4. Failed Gambit. -2 Response Strength, but reveal one unknown kaiju ability (which it uses to obliterate the unlucky pilots who discover it) and open it as a Weak Point next round.
5. Covering Fire. The Kaiju can't move next round (but takes full action count). +1 Response Strength.
6. Distraction. The Kaiju loses one action next round. -1 Response Strength.
7. Minor Barrage. d4 damage to the Kaiju's strongest known ability. -1 Response Strength.
8. Major Barrage. d6 damage to the Kaiju's strongest known ability. -1 Response Strength.
9. Regroup. +2 Response Strength. All pilots may reroll initiative if they want.
10. Risky Barrage. d10 damage to the Kaiju's strongest known ability. -2 Response Strength.
11. Evac Efforts. Improve the evacuation response by 1 level (from Taken Unawares to Panic, Panic to Partial, etc) as the responders run crowd control.
12. Critical Strike. Reduce the Kaiju's weakest known ability to 0 and Wound the kaiju.

by Dominic Qwek

Drop zones are divided into ~10 kaiju-size sectors. Some will have important buildings or features. When it rains, it pours - kaiju attacks are often nexuses for natural disasters, the origins of which are a phenomenon hotly contested to this day

Bunker Complex. Improve the evacuation level in this zone by 2 (minimum: Bunkers).

Celebrities. Here's where the "important people" are. Or at least, you'll get a bonus if they survive. Any kaiju attack in this zone has a CATEGORY-in-6 chance of killing them unless you're specifically protecting them. Some might be willing to relocate; others want to go down with their estate.

Convoy. As Celebrities, but moving along a route. Probably has slightly less noxious passengers, but might carry hazardous materials.

Hospitals. Reduce civilian casualties (in the end total) by an order of magnitude if the hospitals survive the battle. Lots of treatable wounds become fatal if there's no-one to provide rapid care.

Launch Tower. Lets you move anywhere in the drop zone if you start your turn here.

Power Plant. Explodes, messily. 2d10 damage to everyone in the zone and 1d10 to everyone in adjacent zones. Has 20 HP, or can be set to manually detonate by a human-scale operator.

Port. There's a lot of boats here. You can set them loose and might be able to move them out to sea to get landing platforms, or maybe you just want to pick up a boat and hit a giant monster with it.

Research Complex. There's plenty of experimental tech in here. If you get the kaiju in this zone, you might be able to use the complex's sensor equipment to detect its hidden abilities. There might also be experimental weapons inside, whether that's a giant turret or something a mech can wield.

Riot. Evac level in this zone is Panic. Spreads to an adjacent zone at the start of each round unless quelled. Do try not to commit a war crime.

by Doug Williams

A failed Kaiju kill operation becomes a mass casualty event. Roll a response - it will always be dealt with, but at the expense of vast quantities of civilian lives per week. The specific response rolled determines the number of weeks it rampages for.

Kaiju's Fate (d4)
1. The Kaiju becomes endemic to the region after an epic reign of terror. It retreats deep underground, or into the stratosphere, or an oceanic trench, to lick its wounds and revel in the carnage it caused. [CATEGORY] weeks of destruction follow. It will return.

2. Everything we developed besides mechs to stop kaiju falls under the label of paranuclear weaponry. It's all experimental, ridiculously dangerous, and brutally effective. Rods from god, rapture beams, temporal cages, stasis inducers. One's deployed in a last-ditch effort to end the kaiju. It works, and the area is wiped off the map. Remaining players get enough warning to make it out of the kill zone if they can still evacuate, but no one else escapes. Everyone in the target area and the surrounding region dies the same horrific death as the kaiju. Roll for one week of casualties, but as if the kaiju was two categories higher.

3. Another, shinier, more professional mech force swoops in to humiliate you. They make it look easy. They make you look incompetent. They save the world. [CATEGORY] - 2 weeks of destruction (minimum 1). No one in the region will trust your team again.

4. Civilian resistance cobbles together a collective defense strategy, out of salvaged mechs, combined-arms tanks and aircraft, hired mercenaries. The casualty count is immense, and the scars will never heal, but the kaiju is defeated. [CATEGORY] weeks of destruction, double the casualty count, and the area is uninhabitable.

Lives Lost Per Week
Category 1: d10*100
Category 2: d10*1,000
Category 3: d10*10,000
Category 4: d10*100,000
Category 5: d10*1,000,000

by Edouard Caplain
The Monsters

All kaiju, regardless of their category, have 50 ability points. The category will affect how those abilities scale and how difficult they are to damage. If you want to challenge the players more, increase the ability point budget for your kaiju

Roll 1d6-1 for its armor. Subtract 5*result points from the pool. Then, roll a d20, and assign that value to a random ability. Subtract that many points and repeat until 20 or fewer points remain. Put the rest into one more random ability. Note which are known and which are hidden. Pilots don't have access to ability scores unless they have advanced sensors, just the ability names themselves. 

All abilities can be used for thematically appropriate actions. The following descriptions aren't the sum total of what they can do, and intentionally leave open possibilities for creative use. All provided numbers are intended as measuring sticks for a GM's rulings on the fly.

by el-grimlock
d36 (or d66) Kaiju Abilities

1 (11). ABSORBS PROPERTIES: Whenever the kaiju is damaged by an elemental effect or it eats a material, it can roll ABSORBS PROPERTIES and gain a ELEMENTAL abilities at rank X (where X is the roll value). On a success, gain the power, on a failure, lose all other powers gained this way, then gain the power. Damage to those abilities damages this one too. When this power is lost, all the ELEMENTAL abilities gained this way go away too.

2 (12). ADAPTIVE: Whenever the kaiju is damaged, roll ADAPTIVE. Halve damage from that source and similar sources (adapting to an incendiary weapon reduces all fire damage going forward). A failed roll means all previous ADAPTIVE resistances are lost. The kaiju can also take an action to roll ADAPTIVE and preemptively protect itself from a specific danger.

3 (13). BERZERKER: This kaiju's Wound reactions are always Berzerk Mode. Whenever this kaiju is damaged, it can roll BERZERKER and on a success can make a basic attack against the attacker in response.

4 (14). BURROWING: As an action this kaiju can roll BURROWING and move an extra zone. On a success, it attacks all mechs on the ground or underground in the starting and target zones. All this kaiju's moves can burrow underground, letting it reach underground shelters (and if it remains underground, it avoids all ranged attacks from outside its zone).

5 (15). CAMOUFLAGE: At the start of combat, choose either ranged or melee attacks. Attack rolls of that type must make attack rolls against the CAMOUFLAGE value to hit. The kaiju can take an action to roll CAMOUFLAGE, a success lets it change which kind of attack needs to roll, or can blend it into the environment for other purposes.

6 (16). ELEMENTAL AURA: Everyone in the kaiju's zone is subject to an elemental effect. On an ELEMENTAL AURA roll, the kaiju can exude the effect into all adjacent zones until its next turn, but on a failure, it shuts off in the kaiju's zone until the start of its next turn.

7 (21). ELEMENTAL ESSENCE: The kaiju is made of the element, and healed by it when it consumes it or takes damage from it (1-1 damage to healing). On an ELEMENTAL ESSENCE roll, it acts like the element more than a kaiju - TIDAL ESSENCE may have it flow in the streets and drain into the sewers to hide, VACUUM ESSENCE may have it disappear and the air rush in like a thunder clap and shockwave. On a failure, it can't quite reform enough to perform regular kaiju actions next turn (basic attacks and movement).

8 (22). ELEMENTAL MANIPULATION: The kaiju can create and manipulate the element within the combat area. on successful use, effect can deal damage like an attack. still creates the desired effect on failure, though without dealing damage.

9 (23). ELEMENTAL MELEE ATTACK: All this kaiju's melee attacks inflict an elemental effect, and it can make a melee attack against all mechs in its zone on a successful ELEMENTAL MELEE ATTACK roll (failure only targets one mech, and exposes the ability).

10 (24). ELEMENTAL RANGED ATTACK. All this kaiju's ranged attacks inflict an elemental effect, and it can make a ranged attack against all mechs in an adjacent zone on a successful ELEMENTAL RANGED ATTACK roll (failure only targets one mech, and exposes the ability).

11 (25). ELEMENTAL WEAPONS. A sword ten stories long. A gun firing car-size projectiles. Artillery melded with flesh. Hammers of radiation. Scythes of raw vacuum. This kaiju can roll ELEMENTAL WEAPONS to make a melee or ranged attack against one mech in its zone or an adjacent zone, depending on the weapon type. A mech that successfully dodges the attack takes half damage instead of none. Failure on the roll jams or fumbles the weapon.

12 (26). EXTRA-SENSORY PERCEPTION: The kaiju preternaturally senses what's about to happen. Once per round, it has a free ESP action it can take as a reaction to a mech taking an action. If the ESP roll is successful, the kaiju can take a free action before the inciting action occurs. If the roll fails, it takes its free action after the inciting action is resolved.

13 (31). EXTREME SPEED: Enemy ranged attacks must roll and beat EXTREME SPEED in order to hit. On the kaiju's turn, it can take extra move actions by making EXTREME SPEED rolls; once it fails it can't make more that turn.

14 (32). FLIGHT: As an action, this kaiju can roll FLYING and move an extra zone. On a success, it attacks all mechs in the air or on the ground in the starting and target zones. All its moves can fly, and if it remains in the air, it avoids melee attacks from all non-flying mechs.

15 (33). HIDES AS HUMAN: As an action, the kaiju can roll HIDES AS HUMAN to disappear and hide as a specific human. On a success, players lose track of where the kaiju is; on a failure, you can track their movement. The kaiju possesses all its durability and supernatural abilities, albeit reduced in range. It can convincingly mimic human behavior, though this does not make them more inteligent (a kaiju which also has HIGHER COGNITION may be incredibly devastating in this position). This lasts until the kaiju is damaged by a mech-scale attack, at which point they re-emerge into their kaiju form involuntarily. Human-form kaiju all have tells visible to someone looking for them - though the chaos of an attack will likely make testing difficult.

16 (34). HIGHER COGNITION: This kaiju is smart. It can use advanced tools, knows your plan, and will act to prevent it. At the start of each round, it makes a HIGHER COGNITION roll. On a success, it can intersperse all of its actions with the players'. Has an extra action each round.

17 (35). ILLUSIONS: This kaiju can project audiovisual illusions on a successful ILLUSIONS roll. Whether it succeeds or fails, something that occurred this round or that will occur later this round (that the players didn't do) will actually be illusory (such as NPC mech actions, setpieces failing, the kaiju being wounded, promises of reinforcements). When the players figure out what was illusory, the illusion breaks. Illusions remain until this ability is lost or they are broken. Interacting with an illusion breaks it.

18 (36). IMMENSE STRENGTH: Can roll IMMENSE STRENGTH to perform ridiculous feats like throwing a mech entirely out of the combat zone or lifting a subterranean shelter out of the ground whole. On a failure, it just counts as an extra basic melee attack.

19 (41). INVISIBILITY: This kaiju can take an action and roll INVISIBLE to turn invisible. All attack rolls must beat that INVISIBILITY roll to hit, and if the roll succeeds, the GM doesn't have to provide information on the kaiju's movements. This lasts until the start of its next turn.

20 (42). MANY-HEADED: This kaiju gets a free MANY-HEADED roll each turn, and on a success can take an additional free move or attack. The kaiju can make as many MANY-HEADED rolls as it wants until it runs out of actions.

21 (43). MANY-LIMBED: This kaiju can move across any terrain without penalty, and has opposable thumbs or another dextrous equivalent. A successful MANY-LIMBED roll lets it make a basic attack against two or more targets within range OR pick up and wield large items as weapons (on a failure, it just makes a regular basic attack, or destroys the item it's trying to wield).

22 (44). METAMORPH: This kaiju can shapeshift. On a METAMORPH roll, it can replicate another ability of choice (using the current METAMORPH value). If it succeeds, the kaiju can then use that ability this turn. On a failure, may use it next turn. All abilities gained this way dissipate after one use (successfully or not). Damage to replicated abilities is inflicted on METAMORPH as well. Also allows the kaiju to perform other shapeshifting tricks (that maintain its volume and mass).

23 (45). MIND CONTROL: On a successful MIND CONTROL roll, take control of a mech, or many civilians (~10^category). On failure, take control of only a few civilians instead (~10^(category-1)). Hunts by driving civilians into its waiting jaws.

24 (46). MODULAR: This kaiju is comprised of of several kaiju of smaller categories (3 a category smaller, 6 two categories smaller, etc). On a successful MODULAR roll, when combined, lets them split apart. When it splits, all split act independently, out of a total pool of 4 actions. The sub-kaiju each have one of its other abilities, but all share MODULAR. A successful MODULAR roll will let them combine no matter where they are, combining at a midpoint. A failed MODULAR roll will only let them combine if they're in the same area.

25 (51). PARASITIC: This kaiju leeches energy and life from whatever it touches, dealing lethal damage to any living thing human-scale or smaller that makes contact with it. It can ready itself to pull energy and life from larger structures or its zone with a PARASITIC roll; whenever it deals damage this turn it'll restore that many stat points - a success lets it also make a free basic attack with the action and shuts down all non-Eschaton power sources in its zone.

26 (52). PHASING: This kaiju's movement and attacks pass through all obstacles. On a successful PHASING roll, it can make something in its zone phase out of reality for a round, either unable to interact with anything that doesn't have PHASING or unable to interact with things that do have PHASING (its choice)

27 (53). PILOTED: The kaiju gets to pick which of its abilities get damaged (unless PILOTED is targeted). On a successful PILOTED roll, the kaiju can hide all its currently exposed weak points. When PILOTED is removed, the kaiju goes berzerk and will automatically succeed on all its rolls, but exposes all its weak points.

28 (54). RAISES DEAD: A successful RAISES DEAD roll can raise civilian casualties or other dead things in the area as zombies (or other sorts of undead; in any case treated as SPAWN). Alternatively, it can raise a fallen mech pilot to turn arms against their former comrades. Harming the undead also damages this ability.

29 (55). REGENERATION: The kaiju heals 1d6 points of a damaged ability at the start of its turn. A successful REGENERATION roll lets it regenerate an additional d6 points, or seal things inside its wounds, or cancerously grow, or heal another target, etc. Failure lets it regen d6 points with disadvantage.

30 (56). SHIELDED: This kaiju's Wound reactions are always Defense Mode. Can make a SHIELDED roll to get +2 armor against a particular attack type of choice (ranged, melee, elemental, etc). A failure gives a  bonus of +1. It can alternatively use the shield to cage things and prevent them from moving for a round on a success.

31 (61). SPAWN: This kaiju deploys with many category 0 kaiju-spawn swarms. Each individual category-0 is human-size, and are collectively treated as a terrain obstacle that's left behind by the kaiju. A successful SPAWN roll lets the kaiju infest its zone or an adjacent zone with more spawn, or lets all spawn take an action against something in their zone. Spawn inherit one of their parents' abilities (including, potentially, SPAWN). Dealing damage to the spawn in their zones also harms the SPAWN ability, and when the ability is lost, all SPAWN flee. Attacks must deal damage in an area (explosives, flamethrowers, etc) to remove spawn as a hazard, instead of just dealing damage.

32 (62). TELEPORTATION: This kaiju can make a TELEPORT roll to teleport itself or one target. On a success, the kaiju can choose the location within the battlefield, a failure teleports the target at random. There's a CATEGORY-in-6 chance of the target telefragging something important; counts as a basic attack against the smaller of the target or whatever it materializes in.

33 (63). TEMPORAL ANOMALY: The kaiju can roll TEMPORAL ANOMALY and on a success, may undo one of its actions and take another action instead (or try the same thing again). It may alternatively undo a mech's actions, or another event of similar scale. On a failure, it just undoes one of its own actions, and it doesn't get to take a new one.

34 (64). TWINNED: The kaiju is doubly embodied. Each moves separately, but share a pool of actions and all ability totals. On a successful TWINNED roll, each body can take an action; on a failure only one does.

35 (65). WEATHER SYSTEM: A natural disaster follows in the kaiju's wake. The entire battlefield is inundated in a thematic disaster, like storm or earthquake or EM disturbance, etc (figure something out based on the kaiju's other abilities or designation). This causes minor penalties to all enemies in area (like a damage penalty, or minor damage over time, or slowed movement). A successful WEATHER SYSTEM roll increases the penalties until the start of the kaiju's next turn. When this ability is lost, the disaster dissipates.

36 (66). WEBS: This kaiju can make a WEBS roll and on a success deploys sticky webs in its and an adjacent zone that cocoons enemies in webbing (takes an action from the mech or another mech to break free).  Webbed zones can't be moved into and out of in the same turn, but are rapidly traversable by the kaiju, letting it move two zones with one action. On a failure, this just coats its own zone in webs, and fails to cocoon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Districts of the Meatropolis

The Meatropolis is slowly coming together as a setting. I'm still not quite sure what to do with it, but it's a nice worldbuilding project to keep me occupied these days. Someday I'll write an adventure in it; I've certainly got plenty of plot hooks. Here's the meat (haha) of the city: the districts you can find in the heart of the world-turtle, a bit of their histories, and some choice bits of artwork to set the mood.

Retroactively I'm making this post part of the GLOG City Challenge, where a bunch of users all put together some sort of city-themed post! Find links to their work here:
Qasira, a City on the shores of the Seas of Sand 
Shalilas, city of the genie 
Mountain, a tale of two cities 
...more to come!

The Blood Coast

Once, the turtle-corpse's heart pumped strong, and red flowed mightily through its planetary bulk; then the Cyclopean Empire cut it open to drain it for iron. This killed the turtle, and the rest is tragedy. Yet while Ogoath rots, its internal ecosystem roils with the full brutality of an ecosystem gone feral, red not only in tooth and claw but in the very substance it swims through. Clotted islands float across a sea wracked with bloody whirlpools, sucking down into the veins to gods-know-where. What passes for "weather" are rains of lymph and pus and blood, and the tides rush in and out to the beat of the heart's last irregular spasms.

The sea leads down into the arteries, which have become the largest trade routes in and out of the Meatropolis. There's good money in escorting subsanguine (like a submarine, but in blood) caravans past the myriad horrors of the sea; from jell-eye-fish, to packs of ravenous white blood cells, to kraken turtles (and of course, the ever-present threat of vampirates).

Bloodiron refineries monopolize the Coast's scar-beaches with hulking metal networks of pipes and vessels, churning and smoking without pause. The machines intake vast quantities of blood, suck out globs of molten iron with complex alchemical sigils, then release the polluted muck that remains into the flesh and sea. The iron is processed in a dizzying array of forges, and from there goes to the wider city and the rest of the turtle. As the only reliable source of metal, this industry keeps the Meatropolis the center of trade, ever-relevant and an essential stop on any voyage through the turtle.

The ports of the Meatropolis proper are long iron docks protruding from the coast, where shipwrights get first pick of the iron and the ancient (therefore passé) fleshcraft art of shellwork is still practiced by master artisans. Subsanguines and ironshulled trade-ships all get their start here; the design houses are fiercely competitive and constantly looking for an edge.

by Santiago Caruso
The Butchers' Quarter

Fastest dismemberments in the Meatropolis - nay, all the turtle! Stacks of shops pile on top of each other, surrounding bustling marketplaces where anyone who's anyone can be found. As fleshcraft becomes more and more a lost art, the butcher guilds have become essential to everyday life; carving up chunks of turtle or parasite or monster or giant cell (or human, they aren't picky) and turning them into anything anyone can imagine and more.

Networks of scampering fleshcrafts carry packages in butcher-paper from shop to shop. You can hear work-songs in a dozen languages, punctuated by the dull thuds of cleavers against bone. Wrought bloodiron is the closest thing to currency here; the knives must stay plenty and heavy and sharp. Barter serves most, though - the language of coin and capital is but a cautionary tale one can hear in the legends of starfolk fleeing dying worlds. In a world where you can reach into the ground and pull up food, trade and gifts and strong community for base needs folks can't get alone. The collapse of the Empire forced communities to band together in the face of extinction, and those traditions have lasted well into the modern day.

Everything's made out of well-preserved meat here. Jerkied walls and streets, webbed together with collagen. Unlike certain parts of the Meatropolis and the vast domains of the turtle-corpse, it barely smells like rot at all. The narrower, darker alleyways frost over with cold-spells, spilling out from the warehouse bladders that dot the district like great beads of sweat. The butchers let nothing go to waste here, eating it or passing the rarest bits to the fleshcrafter houses of the upper city.

The Spires

Elegant bone-and-iron towers rise high above the city's day-to-day doings, home to the old fleshcrafter noble houses that lay claim to the Meatropolis by right of lineage. Tendon suspension bridges web them together, and skinwinged fleshcrafts flutter between penthouses - if you're lucky enough to be born into a lineage, you'll rarely touch the ground.

The lineages' stables of lesser heirs provide essential maintenance for the iron foundries, while the lords, ladies, and lieges run sprawling intrigues for their own amusement and to be the center of the season's attention. Entrance to the lavish parties thrown atop the spires is predicated on getting an exclusive invite; they're traded around and bargained for and stolen by those who'd chase clout and favor with the high and mighty (of course, those without invites often find their way in anyway).

While the fleshcrafter houses lay claim to vast quantities of resources, the fact that no one else needs those resources to live means that no one needs to pay them more than lip service - unless, of course, they need access to the fruits of the craft. Their creations are nothing short of miraculous, the closest thing to magic (or divinity) of the Empire, or even the Old World. The lineages dole out access jealously, trading secretive innovations cooked up in their ivory towers for unique organs, rare trinkets, and elusive prestige.

The fleshcrafters war over these innovations with the new butcher guilds, in decade-spanning guild-wars fraught with custom and ceremony. They are rarely so crude as to come to open blows; they both have too much respect for life and craft for that.

The Fatberg

A giant lump of lard bulges from the side of the heart like a glistening mountain, marbled through with all sorts of rare oils and blubbers. Even veins of golden butterfat ooze through its glistening mass. It's not a proper district; more of a reclamation zone, or an open-pit mine. the upper layers of the berg's chasms (which deepen every passing day) are riven through with canyon-streets honeycombed with little burrows for miners' families and the support systems that keep them all digging for that cream-gold.

Like the rest of the Meatropolis, the Fatberg is anarchic and chaotic, structure emerging from the interactions of thousands of individuals and mutual aid groups striking ad-hoc claims and deals. No noble house runs the mines with iron fist and tendon-whip; no empire strips it for shipping throughout the arteries of Ogoath the world-turtle. Claim-jumping is constant; negotiations between miner's unions blossom into duels like clockwork.

The berg is pleasantly warm and softly lit by turtleoil lamps, as the stuff's so plentiful in its chasms, but all the structures and furnishings that can't be easily carried out are ramshackle and haphazard. One day, either the berg will run out, or it'll lose enough structural integrity that it'll just slough off of the scarred heart and plummet into the depths below.

These things are real, if you can believe it. Lurking in the sewage systems just beneath our feet.
The Siding

Teeming hundreds of thousands call the Siding home. A long time back - some folks say their grandparents remember, but the stories never line up - a rib cracked, plummeting into the bulk of the heart like a stalactite as thick around as an island, smashing so much of Old Scar into turtleshell rubble.

This was in the days where the Meatropolis packed thick with mortal flesh, newcomers forced to work the Foundries or endure the waste-floods of Old Scar just for a place to live. So, free real estate, sturdy, easily defensible, and full of delicious marrow? The land rush was long and bloody, and it's thankfully long over. It was still the deadliest years in the Meatropolis' history, though perhaps not the darkest.

Now the Siding is honeycombed into a scrimshawed kowloon of dwellings and corridors and neighborhoods, unmappably complex. If you've just arrived, are down on your luck, hiding from something, can work from home, or just like cozy living, the Siding's an easy home. There's always more crews carving out space for their experimental communes or workspace or just their growing families, ever-higher up the Siding's bulk.

The rib's marrow's been long since depleted, and the resulting cavern running the length and height converted into Temple Nonesuch, the Meatropolis' premier house of worship. The true, provable, communicative gods of the Old World died when it fell off the turtle's back, so the temple serves primarily as the city's ossuary and as a patchwork complex of a million cults and splinter faiths, wholly unrecognizable after the crises of faith that two apocalypses bring.

by Bone-Fish14
The Lamp

Atop the siding perches a vast lamp, fuelled by trimmings from the the Fatberg. The word lamp does it injustice, but the name's stuck.

When Ogoath died, the sun went out. What little light filtered through the turtle's cracked shell, down through its torn muscle and ruptured organs, limning the heart in half-twilight, suddenly vanished. (The sun now hangs just above Ogoath's forehead, frigid and dead, a memorial to the end of two creations.)

The early days of the Meatropolis were lightless but for a few jealously-guarded lanterns in the chaotic days as the turtle spasmed and the Empire fell. Once the few refugee camps had found some semblance of stability, and the first foundries took shape, the residents of the city-to be lit everything with flickering oil-lamps. That much fire was dangerous beyond belief, in a world made of flammable meat, and fire-quenching brigades of alchemists (able to purify water from blood) became one of the most important and powerful institutions in the city.

Then the siding crashed, and some of those alchemists had an idea.

Now a sphere of iron and clockwork, a hundred meters in radius, is suspended precariously a kilometre above the city. It converts turtle oil through a series of industrial alchemical processes into pure radiance, with a complex series of mirrors (who knows where they got the silver) amplifying and redirecting the lamplight to create a semblance of day and night. There's a lot less fire around these days, especially with New Scar acting as a permanent cautionary tale. The engineers work around the clock to keep it that way.

The Lamp acts as a meeting point for the chemists' guild, as well as the home to a small neighborhood of creatives. It's not much, but it's the closest thing to pre-fire New Scar you'll find these days.

New Scar

Once, not so long ago, this was the Meatropolis's thriving heart. A new school of fleshcrafter architects grew spiraling works of living art, amphitheatres with organ-organs bellowing melancholy song, marshaled communes of artists and writers memorializing worlds lost and dreaming of a future beyond the omnipresent rot.

It was not to last.

A pressurized series of lungs ruptured; oxygen is incredibly flammable and in the corpse of the turtle there is so much fuel to burn. Fire ripped through the district, reducing lives and opuses to ash in an instant, burning deep and fierce. The city was saved, by smothering the blaze in blood and pus, but at the sacrifice of every last denizen of New Scar (the old district's name is forgotten, in an unspoken collective attempt to ignore the trauma etched into the city's psyche).

To this day, New Scar is still coated in a thick layer of ash; no one chooses to live here but those forgotten by the rest of the city. It's barely rebuilt, centered on the old main street (now called charcoal row), with reconstituted tenements home to soot-covered orphans and foundry-workers who've chosen to live near their jobs instead of in any real community.

But once it was beautiful, and beneath the meters of char, there may yet be something left. Some still hope those remains could change everything.

by rinavenue
Old Scar

Old Scar traces its history all the way back to the original sin of this dim era - the murder of Ogoath, the world-turtle. Here is where the Empire's fleshcrafters made their first careful cuts into the heart, which would prove fatal a scant few years later. It's an ugly mesh of long outdated fleshcrafting techniques piled up over the centuries of slow apocalypse; brutalist shellcraft sangueducts of the Cyclopean Empire overgrown with scabwork webs, then as the sangueducts leaked bleeding tears from the sea and the webs flooded with salty red, it became a race to patch up shellwork with improvised clots and grow the scabwebs higher.

The sangueducts were once intended to act as artificial arteries, channeling the blood out of the heart in measured fashion to feed Cyclopean megaprojects hanging in the void or to be drunk by thirsty teeming millions. Now they shine, unfinished or shattered, layered like fordite, an underlevel running to uncharted depths beneath the Meatropolis.

As the physically lowest district, Old Scar is where all the city's refuse collects, an impromptu sewer that everyone acknowledges exists but no one has the will or power to do anything about. There's treasure among the tonnes of viscera and excrement that fall each day, but panning sewage is dirty, excruciating labour. Still, the city's massed leavings can be an aggregate treasure in and of themselves - one's trash reveals more of their habits than their diary - and the same holds true for the city. Old Scar learns. Old Scar remembers.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

More Weird Race-As-Classes

And here's three more, in the vein of last post!

Next steps are posts about arcane casters and divine casters, probably. Don't hold me to it.

Do you know who my father is?

Gods, demons, elemental princes, fae, titans, machine-minds from beyond the stars, even extradimensional outsiders - they all love to tool around in the mortal world and indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. Sometimes they leave spawn behind, half mortal, half something far greater. Whether you want this lineage or not, it's yours. It comes with power, responsibility, and an unrefusable invitation to the games higher powers play. You stand with a foot in this world and a foot in the next, and the concerns of both tearing you in twain.

To explain some of the Demigod's abilities, we've got to go over how divine casting works in this upcoming hack. Miracles are lumped into Domains, like in my original Cleric class. Each Domain has a certain number of Commands, things that an entity with that Domain will give you power to do. Follow a Domain's Commands to invoke a miracle you know that belongs to that Domain. For each Command you follow, you get 1 Magic Die for the miracle, up to your Devotion. All divine casting classes will give you Devotion as you take more templates; the same way arcane casting classes (like the Wizard) provide Magic dice. Rolling duplicates while invoking a miracle causes a Disfavor roll, as does breaking any command of the domain with the miracle. I'll elaborate more in a later post.

Hit Dice: 1d6 Grit, 1d6 Meat
Failed Career: 1. Atheist, 2. Charmed Life, 3. Monk
Starting Equipment: Token of your parent's favor, holy text (accurate, as opposed to most local translations), blessed weapon

There's only one template. You only get so much of a leg up on mortals; you must travel the rest of the path yourself.

Template 1: Divine Lineage, Divine Enemies, Manifestation, 1 Devotion

Divine Lineage: Pick a deity or other nominally-benevolent power, and pick up to 3 Domains it holds sway over. They're one of your parents, whatever that means given the nature of their divinity and capacity for reproduction with mortals. You're obviously of immortal stock, and the devout will throw themselves at you in town for benedictions or to serve you as hirelings. You can hire either (Devotion)d4 peasant believers or (Devotion) mercenaries who will swear an oath to your protection this way; they demand no compensation besides rations and blessings. The priesthood will give you access to their stores of holy armaments and theological treatises.

Divine Enemies: As an agent of your parent's will in the mortal world (whether you're willing or not), the followers of their enemies will strike at you to harm your parent. Roll a d6 at the start of each session. On a 1, you've attracted the notice of your parent's enemies, who will take the opportunity to strike as soon as possible. This stacks if you haven't yet been attacked; more enemies will marshal against you. The GM is encouraged to scale these enemies to match your own power in the world.

Who's angry?
1. Deific family with a aeons-long grudge against yours, reasons lost to history
2. Divine diplomat, you've somehow upset the balance of the universe and they're here to right it
3. Fully divine sibling who wants more of your parent's attention
4. Grandparent who disagrees with how your parent raised their children
5. Incredibly distant relation who doesn't even know who you are, just that you exist
6. Local power, mad at you bringing your family's chaos into their territory
7. One of your demigod half-siblings, trying to stay the favored child
8. Parent's childhood rival trying to one-up them
9. Parent's jilted ex-lover trying to settle a grudge
10. Parent's older sibling, trying to ensure they don't succeed
11. Parent's younger sibling, jealous of their success
12. Your parent, who wants you back on the straight-and-narrow

Who've they sent?
1. Adventuring party, cutthroat and greedy, hired to capture you alive.
2. Bounty hunters, all competing for the price on your head.
3. Cultists, poorly-organized but numerous.
4. Demigod, at the behest of their parent.
5. Divine hunting beast that will not stop until either it or you are dead.
6. Inquisitor, singlemindedly driven and singularly well-armed.
7. Mob of misinformed, superstitious peasants.
8. Preacher with a tempting offer in exchange for a favor.
9. Serial killer who specifically targets your parent and their followers.
10. Trial sent to test your mettle.
11. Warriors seeking the most dangerous game.
12. Wizard with a petty grudge they've blown up to titanic proportions.

Manifestation: You can manifest your parent's power, surrounding yourself with a visible aura of divinity. Your eyes and mouth glow bright, your god's holy music reverberates through the area, and you're surrounded by an angelic (or demonic) visage. When you do this, you can wield all the miracles from one of your parent's domains for 10 minutes, but doing this prevents you from disobeying any of the associated commands for a day. On an X-in-6, where X is the number of times you've used this ability today, this attracts the attention of Divine Enemies.

Believe, believe, the dragonborn comes.

Dragons are the culmination of lives of avarice. Not everyone who becomes immensely wealthy sets themself on the path to dragonhood, but sometimes the glint of gold catches in the eye and its metallic taste lingers on the tongue in such a way that its call cannot be ignored. Possession becomes obsession becomes transformation. Some stave off the call of wealth, of scaled draconic majesty and the power to topple kingdoms. Some simply fail to hoard enough to satisfy their lust, and live forever unfulfilled. And a few become nightmares with names weightier than history, carving up continents, holding entire kingdoms for ransom.

Hit Dice: 1d6 Grit, 1d6 Meat
Failed Career: 1. Apprentice Mage, 2. Banker, 3. Dragon Cultist, 4. Hapless Farmer, 5. Miner, 6. Virgin Sacrifice
Starting Equipment: 100gp you've hoarded so far, a draconic name

It's a 10-level GLOG, so here's a ten template class. Each level brings you further towards full dragon-hood, and further from your humble beginnings, but taking even one level in another class prevents you from reaching those particular kingdom-conquering heights.

Template 1: Dragonbreath, Gold-Lust, 1 Dragon Die
Templates 2-9: +1 Draconic Mutation
Template 10: Draconic Rebirth

Dragonbreath: You have a breath weapon. Roll and spend a Dragon Die (d6) to deal that much elemental damage (choose the type of damage when you gain this ability) in a 60' long cone. Creatures in the cone may make a Dexterity save to avoid the damage, but additional effects from the elemental damage still occur. Dragon Dice recharge after daily rests.

Gold-Lust: You can smell precious metals and gems (through up to 10' of solid stone), and eat them as rations at a rate of 25gp to a ration, or 100gp to a Dragon Die.

Draconic Mutations: Can be taken in any order, or rolled randomly. Can't take the same one twice.
1. Dragonspeech: You can instinctively speak and understand the language of dragons, which is more real than the world it is spoken into. You may spend Dragon Dice as Magic Dice to power your spells. +1 Dragon Die.
2. Gaze: Your pupils slit and your irises gleam like precious gems. You no longer need to blink, and have infravision but for monetary value instead of heat. Breaking eye contact with you takes a successful Wisdom save.
3. Horns: Gain a d6 damage natural weapon. It knocks back enemies, and the horns are hard enough to dent metal and break through wooden walls.
4. Lair: Designate an area under your exclusive control as your lair. Gain an extra Grit die for every order of magnitude of gold pieces (10 = +1, 100 = +2, 1000 = +3, 10000 = +4, etc) in your lair. After resting in your lair, get +1 Dragon Die for the day.
5. Scales: Gain natural armor as chain. This doesn't encumber you. You can't wear armor.
6. Tail: Grow a long, spiked, whip-like tail. You can wield it as a d6 damage natural weapon, and if you stand still you get an extra attack with it on your turn.
7. Vast: You grow twice as tall, striding as a god among mortals. Gain +4 Strength, +4 Constitution, +1 Meat die, and you require four times as many rations to regain Hit Dice.
8. Wings: You have a pair of large, scaled wings. Spend a Dragon Die to fly for 10 minutes; this die returns to your pool on a 5-6. +1 Dragon Die.

Draconic Rebirth: You complete your metamorphosis into a great wyrm. Grow to the size of a house. +4 Meat dice. Your breath weapon now deals 6d6 damage. You can fly at will. By spending a Dragon Die, you can polymorph into a specific mortal form. In mortal form, you only have access to Gold-Lust, Dragonspeech, and Gaze, but can return to your true draconic form at will.

Exercise your right to bear arms.

Hit Dice: 1d6 Grit, 1d6 Meat
Failed Career: 1. Butcher, 2. Hunter, 3. Pariah, 4. Shepherd, 5. Raised by Weres, 6. Witch
Starting Equipment: The clothes on your back, satchel you can carry in your wereform.

Template 1: Werebeast, Animalistic
Template 2: Dire Were, Animalistic
Template 3: Alpha Were, Animalistic, +1 Grit die, +1 Meat die

Werebeast: You can turn into an animal form. While in your wereform, your unarmed attacks deal d6 base damage, and you have all other abilities that the creature would possess, whether extra combat effects, better senses, or new forms of movement. This doesn't change your Hit Dice, and you can't wield weapons or wear armor in your wereform unless you've got the opposable thumbs or fitted armor to do so. You can pass as a totally mundane beast in this form, unsuspicious in its natural habitat, and can communicate with other beasts of its kind. You drop everything you're carrying when you shift. Wounds and scars carry over between forms.

Moonlight or the command of an alpha were can force you into your wereform; save to resist with difficulty based on the amount of moonlight shining on you - automatically fail under the full moon; automatically succeed under the new moon. Once forced into your wereform this way, you cannot shift back until the end of your next daily rest.

Silver deals double damage to you, and wounds inflicted by silvered weapons cannot be healed.

Animalistic: You gain one of your wereform's abilities (and the accompanying physical features) while in your mundane form.

Dire Were: In addition to your wereform, you also gain a dire wereform that's monstrous and roughly humanoid (or a swarm, if your wereform is something small like a rat or a beetle). It has an new ability that your normal wereform lacks, +1 Meat die, +1 Grit die, and all weaknesses of your wereform.

Alpha Were: You're instinctively recognized as a leader by creatures of your wereform, and by other lycanthropes who aren't also alphas. You can command them unquestioningly to the degree of intelligence they display; dogs are enthusiastic but not very bright, pigs are smarter and get vindictive, bees will follow complex tactical formations.

d20 Wereforms
1. Bear
2. Bee
3. Bull
4. Crab
5. Crow
6. Frog
7. Gator
8. Hawk
9. Octopus
10. Ram
11. Rat
12. Robot
13. Scarab
14. Shark
15. Snake
16. Spider
17. Tiger
18. Turtle
19. Tyrannosaur
20. Wolf 

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