Here are some new Game Master Characters (GMCs) for your Feng Shui 2 game. Despite the title, Mook Monday is not just mooks. We will cover a variety of featured foes and bosses as well. In keeping with this week’s urban jungle theme, we have some urban trouble makers to challenge your players.
Mook Monday: Urban Jungle
DRUNKEN RIOTERS (8/13/5)
Oh no, the local sportsball team lost. Or these days, maybe the team won. Perhaps the crowd was just manipulated by propaganda or foul sorcery. In any case, the streets are filled with drunken rioters who will probably feel ashamed of their behavior in the morning. The characters will want to use discretion and non-lethal force against these guys, as they go after the bad guys who started the riot in the first place. Because they are drunk and not warriors, these nooks have a lower defense than normal. Damage: 8 (stick), 7 (punch)
DOCK WORKERS (8/13/5)
These guys don’t want you poking your noses into other people’s cargo. Damage: 9 (assorted, heavy, blunt objects)
DOCK WORKERS (8/13/5)
These guys don’t want you poking your noses into other peoples cargo. Damage: 9 (assorted, heavy, blunt objects)
SECOND STORY THIEF
As a professional in the illicit acquisitions industry, the thief might be a friend, or opponent of the characters. Or both. She doesn’t do wet work, and prefers to avoid confrontation if at all possible. In the world of Feng Shui that is rarely possible.
This hood seemed destined to be a nobody until a strange man taught him a little magic. Every once in a while the strange man’s friends request a favor, but that’s stuff the hood would do anyway. Right?
Weapons: Blast (10), Colt King Cobra (11/3/5) Bonus Schticks: Magnetic blast, Exemplary prostrations
MOOK MONDAY: PIRATES AND SHARKS
29 September, 2014
It’s Mook Monday again and this week’s theme is beach front battles. So, what sort of ocean bad guys spring to mind? Pirates, of course. Because of the power of Chi, we have both undead historical pirates and not dead yet modern ones. And sharks. Don’t forget the sharks.
SKELETAL PIRATES (8/13/5)
Maybe they only look skeletal under the light of the moon, or maybe they are always skeletal. In any case, these nooks crew ghostly pirate ships and protect long buried treasure.
Damage: 9 (cutlass, knives, boat hooks, etc.)
MODERN PIRATES (8/13/5)
These guys are never skeletal and carry AK-47’s instead of cutlasses. If the characters have vehicles, then you might want to give a couple of these guys RPGs as well.
Damage: 13 (AK-47)
A SHIVER OF SHARKS (8/13/5)
In real life, these sharks are probably too small to bother with people. In Feng Shui 2, a group of them might go into a blood frenzy when somebody gets too far into the water.
Damage: 10 (bite)
MODERN PIRATE BOSS
Leading a band of modern pirate nooks, the boss captains a small, high-speed boat. While he gets a bigger share of any loot that his nooks, he still passes most of his gains up to this boss. Organized crime is the same world over. Even though he is in charge of his boat, he doesn’t have any actual leadership skills. That is what Intimidate is for.
Weapons: UZI (10) or Amsel Striker (13), knife (8) Vehicle: Powerboat (7/6/6) Skills: Drive 13, Intimidate 11 Driving Schticks: Pedal to the Metal, Ram Speed I
GREAT WHITE SHARK
If the bad guy has a lair on or near the ocean, there are probably a couple of big sharks hanging around. A steady diet of failed minions will do that. They might also be trolling around pirate-infested waters, tropical lagoons or any beach front location that might otherwise be too boring.
Undead pirate hordes need a captain. This captain will most likely be found on his ghost ship, which is more location than vehicle.
Weapons: Cutlass (9), Several black powder pistols (7/3/6) Skills: Guns 15, Leadership 14, Intimidation 13 Resistances: Will 10 Creature Schticks: Regeneration 1 Foe Schticks: Ablative Lackey, Auto Re-Arm, Back to the Wall, Furious Wrath
MOOK MONDAY: HOLLYWOOD STARS
06 October, 2014
Ah, the glitz of Hollywood. Home to the stars that entertain us and the mass of wannabes who fill roles like “Zombie #1” and “Falling off ledge guy.” Here is a collection of Hollywood’s finest.
ORC EXTRAS (8/13/5)
A mass of scary looking monsters, with scars, lesions, boils and deformities distributed across their latex prosthetic bodies. If they are prepared for trouble, their weapons won’t be the rubber prop kind.
Damage: 5 (rubber prop swords and axes), 10 (real swords and axes)
There are many people in the secret war who can blow things up in a big way. The pyrotechnician specialized in blowing them up just enough. There is good money making small explosions look big for Hollywood. There’s even better money in side jobs for anybody who needs something to have less of a presence in the world.
Weapons: Colt King Cobra (11/3/5), C4 bombs (as grenade) Skills: Sabotage 17, Intrusion 13 Foe Schticks: Explosive Vest The Best Laid Plans: If the pyrotechnician has time to prepare a building, he can lace it with explosives. During a subsequent fight, he can make a single attack using his Sabotage skill against all opponents. Base damage for this attack is 18 as explosions rock the building collapses around the attackers. At the GM’s discretion, non-building locations can be similarly prepared.
Gladly trading her beauty and talent for the money and influence offered by the Lodge, the starlet is no pushover. She will to fight to keep her position in society. However, redemption may not be out of the question.
It is Mook Monday during Vile Sorcery week. That can only mean one thing: demons! Here are 4 terrible demons, inspired by a few classic Shadowfist cards. There are only 2 posts left before the end of the Feng Shui Kickstarter. Check back Wednesday for a collection of sorcerous weapons, and Friday for our capstone Feng Shui site of this series.
MOSQUITO DEMONS (8/13/5)
Travelling in swarms, these demons look like chocked sized mosquitos, swollen with mauve colored fluid, and large claws for grabbing their victims for a bite. When somebody kills one of these demons, they explode in a gross mass of goo. If a hero kills one of these demons at close range, as determined by the GM, that hero must make a Fortune check with a difficulty of 4 or be affected by the Fowl Spew creature schtick.
BLOODY HORDE (8/13/5)
Members of the horde appear human, except for their total lack of skin. This allows you to see their well-defined musculature.
Damage: Spiked Club(10)
The Abysmal Absorber looks like a giant dog with no head but 6 eyes on its body. Oh yeah, and 6 tentacles that end in sucking lamprey like mouths.
Weapons: Lamprey mouth tentacle (9) Creature Schticks: Blood Drain Soul Absorption: Any time the Abysmal Absorber inflicts a Mark of Death on a hero, the absorber regains 5 wound points for every Mark of Death the hero now has (5 on the first mark, 10 on the second, etc.).
TWO HUNDRED KNIVES OF PAIN
Some supernatural creatures are schooled in the Hell of Piercing. This demon is its headmaster. Two-hundred razor sharp spines protrude from the green skin of his arms, tail and head. The cuts they leave are numerous and painful. When attacking, THKP uses his speed and skillful attacks to leap in and destroy an opponent before they can attack him in return.
Weapons: Spines(11) Creature Schticks: Natural Weapon, Schooled in the Hell of Piercing Foe Schticks: Don’t Turn Your Back
Welcome to the jungle We take it day by day If you want its you’re gonna bleed But it’s the price you pay
Guns N’ Roses
The urban jungle. That’s the theme of my Feng Shui 2 blog posts over the next week. The crowded streets of Hong Kong are the default setting for Feng Shui; but the Chi War might play out in Tokyo, New York, London, or San Francisco. Any large metropolitan area has lots of people, and they’re Chi, making them vital in the Secret War. I’ve got a few articles from the mean streets of the world to share with you over the next week. Opening the series are two Feng Shui sites — the City Park and the Night Market.
Most communities have a park of some kind. In a small town, like mine, it might be a simple lawn with a bandstand. In a large city, the park might be huge. Central Park, in New York, is 843 acres. Of course, most parks have benches, walkways and a monument or two. Large ones might also have water features, playgrounds, food carts, or anything else expressing the values of the local community.
A park is often the hub of a community. In a happy, prosperous community, everybody might be attuned to the park and not even know it. Cities with a strong or corrupt government might have a tighter control of the chi flow through the park and keep its benefits for themselves.
Cool Things that Can Happen
If you think about a park as a big lawn, it might seem like a boring place for a fight. But, look closer and you will find lots of possibilities.
Acrobatics on the playground equipment
A large, heavy character steps on the see-saw and sends a nook flying
Somebody gets slammed into a lamp pole
A park bench becomes an improvised weapon
The hot dog cart has steaming hot water and condiments
Somebody gets impaled on the sword or bayonet held by the status of that famous guy
Or that spiky bit on that modern sculpture nobody actually likes
Somebody gets thrown into a pond
The swans in that pond, they are mean. All swans are mean.
If the park is crowded, innocent bystanders might get used as hostages
Not just any bystanders, a couple is getting their wedding photos taken
Also, that old guy, practicing T’ai Chi, don’t mess with him
The chi flow of city park is both subtle and generous. While control of its chi does not grant any special powers, being a member of the community that controls the park grants the benefits of attunement. No special ritual is necessary.
In Your Campaign
When using the city park in your campaign, focus on its role as the central hub in a community.
A small city has seen a revitalization in recent years, after renovating its central square. New grass, flowers, a playground seemed to lift the community’s spirits. New business have come into town, schools are doing better, in short things are better than they have been since the mills closed decades ago.
As if sensing the new prosperity, a group of thugs has come looking for a new place to sell their drugs. Perhaps one of the factions sent them to capture the park’s chi; or perhaps they are not aware they are capitalizing on an auspicious site.
In either case, somebody connected with one of the PC’s melodramatic hooks, comes to them looking for help, restoring order to the community.
Somebody the PC’s care about disappeared in the city park. Investigation shows that there have been several other disappearances in recent weeks. Turns out a group of vile sorcerers has been feeding people to the demon that is hiding in the bottom of the Koi pond. With each meal it grows stronger, taking more of the park’s chi for itself. Somebody has to come and kick this thing’s ass back to the hell from which it came. I wonder who that could be?
The city park is all decked out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city’s founding. Everything seems to be going well until strange people in antique clothes show up. It is clear they are mad about something.
Turns out that a portal to a pop-up juncture, 100 years ago, has opened up somewhere in the park. The citi’s founding fathers wronged these people somehow, and they aren’t coming through to negotiate. Meanwhile, other enemies of the park’s controllers may be trying to go back through the portal to stop the city, or at least the park, from ever being founded.
The frenetic energy of the night market is palpable, even for those unaware of chi. When the sun sets, normal daytime thoroughfares become bustling bazaars. Stalls emerge from nowhere, with vendors selling xiaochi, snack foods, drinks, produce and manufactured goods of all kinds. Bright lights and banners try to attract attention, but end up just creating more chaos and noise.
Cool Things That Can Happen
Advertising banners hang from everywhere. They can be torn down and used to entangle opponents, or obscure vision
Strings of electric lights are, well, electric
Two words: hot noodles
A merchant is selling boot leg martial arts DVDs. The covers might inspire mooks to feats of foolish bravado
Crowds get in the way during a chase
Are those fried scorpions on a stick?
Of course, they were fried in hot oil
The loud TV outside the discount electronics shop will be much quieter after being broken over somebody’s head
Down that street. Hardware, children’s wear, ladies’ lingerie
A number of stalls sell fruits which become messy improvised weapons
Not only is the scrappy kid familiar with the market well, she fits under most of the carts and booths
One stall sells plastic martial arts weapons. You know, for the tourists
The Chi of the night market is powerful, but hard to tame. It is difficult to control such a large area with so many independent businesses. Even local gangs have competition in the area. However, attuning to the market is worth it. Everybody attuned has their wealth level increased by one level. If they are already rich, then they are even richer — whatever that means in your campaign.
Once attuned, losing that attunement hurts. If you lose control, then you lose a level of wealth, in addition to the one you gained with initially. If you were already poor, now you are really destitute. Once you attune to a new site, your wealth level will revert to normal.
In Your Campaign
There is no better spot to meet someone in a public, but an anonymous place. The night market is also excellent for evading pursuit. Finally, you can buy just about anything you need here.
The lodge offers to let the PC’s attune to the night market in exchange for a “small” favor. Maybe they are sincere, but probably not. More likely, the lodge will do something to break their attunement then kick the characters hard when they are down.
The players are likely to see this coming, but can they capitalize on the opportunity without being destroyed?
Li Ting, the King of the Fire Pagoda, is trying to establish a night market in the Netherworld. He is hoping to gain control over illicit trade between junctures for both power and profit. Of course his siblings won’t approve, but how do the other factions feel? There are pros and cons to centralizing trade in one area. It might make some things easier, and there is big profit if you can get a cut.
The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter is going gangbusters. We, the fans, have unlocked all the archetypes and the second pop-up juncture is coming soon. Related to this post, Atlas Games announced the Fistfull of Fight Scenes expansion. Seven cool set pieces for your adventures, with tips for fighting in them and plot hooks for your campaign. While creating a set piece in Feng Shui is pretty easy, having examples for inspiration is always helpful. I hope this week’s location inspires something awesome in your game.
Beach Front Battles
Beach Front Battles is the theme for the week. On Mook Monday, we’ll have some undead pirates and sharks to defend the beach. Wednesday will wrap up the week with three awesome water-related weapons your characters can use to storm the beaches. But now we’ll kick the week off with a feng shui site inspired by a classic Shadowfist card.
Deep orange light reflects off the fine sand as the sun sets against the ocean’s distant horizon. The gentle lapping of the surf and the distant cry of a seagull are all that you can hear. The day fades to darkness as you settle into the tall grasses covering the dune. Turning on your night vision, you peer out into the darkness. Slow, lumbering shapes crawl out of the ocean and work their way up the sand. Flippers made for swimming work to push aside the sand, making a hole large enough for a hundred eggs. Turning your gaze out to sea, you see two boats making their way towards the shore. As usual, the New Simian Army’s timing couldn’t be worse.
Sea turtles are found in tropical waters all over the world, including the hotly contested South China Sea. Sea turtles are cute and lovable. You don’t want them to become victims of the Chi War.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
The Ex-Special Forces member should rise out of the ocean firing the biggest gun he can find
The immunity bonus for soft sand or water is +2
Sand will get thrown in somebody’s face
Salt water must hurt when it gets into wounds
Dune buggies vs. jet skis
Coconuts can be thrown or broken over somebody’s head for 8 damage
SCUBA tanks can also be used as improvised weapons for 9 damage
There are sharks waiting for somebody to get into the water (come back Monday for shark stats)
A bad guy might try to use a turtle as a shield. He should be punished for this
If stunned at the wrong time, a mook might get washed out to sea by a large wave
An outboard motor, with a spinning propeller, can get torn off the back of a boat and used as a weapon
WWII era bunkers, crumbling with age and neglect, might provide cover or access to rusty, old junk
Attuning with Turtle Beach is, in a sense, making a pact with the turtles. In their limited way, they hope that you will protect them and the beach. In return, their chi will help protect you. When this relationship is in balance, both sides prosper.
When the characters attune to Turtle beach, they get eight Marks of Death (shared between all of them). Each of these Marks of Death can be used to cancel a Mark of Death inflicted on any attuned character. If all eight Marks of Death are ever used, the last turtle dies and the Chi of the beach dissipates. If the characters lose attunement to the beach, they have shown that they cannot protect the turtles’ chi and they will not be able to attune to it again.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
The turtles are meant to tug at your players’ heart strings. Turtle Beach will be more fun if you can get your players to care and fret over using the turtles to save themselves. Somebody should die dramatically because they took that last Mark of Death themselves rather than destroy the beach.
Somebody connected with one of the characters is a scientist, park ranger or concerned citizen. She needs help to protect the beach from those who want to exploit or destroy it. The Lodge might want to build a luxury resort on the beach to channel Chi into something they can control. Any of the other factions might want its power for themselves, or to kill it off to prevent others from having it.
In a period of escalating tensions, a group of Taiwanese college students who were helping with sea turtle research has gone missing. Taiwan blames China, while China claims this shows that Taiwan is incapable of protecting its own people. Meanwhile, the Dragons sense that something is amiss. Can they follow the clues from the beach to the real culprit and avert war in Southeast Asia?
In 1850, a transformed turtle betrayed the Ascended and took up a life of piracy in the South China Sea. Rumor has it that he became quite wealthy, trading the secrets and spoils of the Chi War with anyone who could pay. Until, one day, a Lotus sorcerer double crossed him, forcing him to revert into turtle form.
The pirate kept the map to his treasure tattooed on his chest. After he fell into the sea, there was no way to find his treasure, or the secrets he kept. Until a video turned up on the internet of a large, old turtle with strange markings on its shell. Strange markings that look like a map? Now the race is on to see which faction can find the turtle first.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: SOUND STAGE
03 October, 2014
The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter is more than half-done, and things are going very well. I swear I thought of this week’s theme before Robin’s Blowing Up The Movies stretch goal was announced. I’m super excited that it just funded. Here’s hoping the stretch goals just keep getting better and better.
We are going a little meta this week and exploring incorporating the filming of an action movie into your Feng Shui adventure. Not in the silly “the characters know they are in a movie” sense. The rules, rightly, warn us away from that. Instead, what if part of your adventure takes place on a movie set? The action and the stunts become real and deadly.
For the Feng Shui Site Friday opener to Action! Week, we present the sound stage. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
You’re thinking that your role as “Karate Student #3” in this picture isn’t worth the money. There is so much boring standing around in the making of a movie. Leaning against a totem pole, you notice a new guy manning the prop table, and some extras you don’t remember from yesterday. You see, the prop guy hand one of the extras a sword from a box off to one side. It looks heavier than your rubber sword. Something’s up…
Wary now, you stand on your mark to start the scene. As the beautiful and talented Johanna Scarlettson moves into position, you realize she’s the target. As the director calls “Action!” you spring into it.
The sound stage is a large, open warehouse like building that is acoustically isolated from the outside world. Inside whole worlds come to life as sets and props are built for specific movies.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
The best thing about a sound stage is that inside can be any setting you want. From space opera battle cruisers, to an old west saloon, to a Roman colosseum. The cool things below focus on stuff with movie making equipment that can happen in any sound stage. You will want to add your own layer of cool things based on what is being filmed when your adventure takes place.
Bad guys, maybe even a sniper, will try to shoot from the catwalks above the stage
Somebody can fall off the catwalk onto a pointy piece of scenery, or get strangled in a lighting cable.
A hot stage light will get smashed over somebody’s head.
If the studio is old school, a camera can fly open, tangling somebody in the film
Somebody might swing around on a camera boom, or ride on a camera track
There is a food service table
Real weapons might get mixed up with the prop weapons
Mooks might be disguised as extras in strange or humorous costumes
There are wind fans, rain makers and smoke machines that can get used to go effect
A named foe, who is a movie star, might get hit with a chair that has his name on it
A light diffuser screen will get smashed over somebody’s head
There are lots of wires around that might get used as lasso’s, trip lines or garrets
Two words: Gaffers Tape
There are lots of green screens these days. Somebody might get thrown through one, or it could get pulled over by a bunch of mooks
The fight might get caught on camera, which might become a clue later
I can’t explain why, but the sound stage doesn’t feel like a feng shui site to me. It is a great set piece, but it just doesn’t seem chi-full to me. However, if you want it to be a feng shui site with special powers, then it is sensible the site would enhance communication somehow. Perhaps it gives +2 to social skills like deceit, intimidation, seduction, and leadership to everybody who is attuned to the site.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
The Lodge has full control of most major centers of film production in the world: Hollywood, Bollywood, Hong Kong. It uses this control to produce films that influence public perceptions and attitudes. A popular starlet is a dedicated member of the Lodge. Until one of her enemies planted evidence, she intends to betray the Lodge. Now the Lodge plans to kill her and make it look like an accident.
With their martial arts skills, the characters hired on as extras. Not knowing the starlet is a lodge member, they, of course, intervene and stop the assassination attempt. Perhaps, as the characters work through the adventure to protect and save her. Will she come around to the side of righteousness? Or will she betray them to increase her own status with the Lodge?
The C-Bomb didn’t kill everybody associated with the Buro. A Buro media exec was one of the more unlikely survivors. He has made his way to the modern juncture and back into the only industry he ever knew. He has brought some special equipment with him, and now he is using that equipment to film special commercials and music videos.
The special equipment allows for the insertion of subliminal messages and even commands into this content. These messages are much more subtle and harder to detect than clumsy, modern Lodge attempts to do the same. At the moment, the media exec is just using this for his own personal gain. However, his former comrades are sure to find out and they will want to use this to rebuild here in the modern juncture.
The small Pacific nation of New Zealand has some of the most beautiful terrain. Terrain rich in feng shui sites, that channel chi to a bountiful and happy nation. The Lotus sees this island as a potential beach head into the modern juncture. It is lightly guarded, remote and easy to protect, yet still close enough to threaten and influence the Ascended strongholds in Asia.
The Lotus created a brilliant plan to take control of the islands. They will start a small but well-funded movie studio to produce a trilogy of blockbuster fantasy movies. These movies give cover to move in hordes of sword wielding mooks, smiths and other historic craftsmen to support them. Monsters and magic can be explained away as special effects.
Filming will occur all over the islands, allowing access to the feng shui sites. Gradually, over the course of the decade long project, the chi of the islands will flow through the film studio to the islands’ new eunuch masters. Unless somebody figures out what is going on.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: ANCESTRAL TOMB
10 October, 2014
This is an exciting week for the Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter. It is the last week, and that means two things. The final mad rush is about to begin, and the best stretch goals are about to come out. I believe the Kickstarter will break $200k, maybe even $250k. The chi seems to be flowing in the right direction. Let’s do what we can to make it happen.
Speaking of flowing chi, the theme for my posts during this final week is Vile Sorcery. We are looking at all things magical, including the Lotus, as they struggle to find a foothold in their new juncture. For Feng Shui Site Friday, I present the Ancestral Tomb.
The old man said that the tomb covered an area the size of a small city. You can’t understand how all of that could be underground now. However, you have no doubt that the spooky hole opening before you is the right place. You snap a chemical light stick and descend into the darkness.
When the 69AD juncture closed, the Lotus found themselves forced to relocate into the 7th century. One of the first orders of business was to find the tombs of those left behind, now long dead. In these tombs, they hoped to find magic and relics to aid them in this more hostile juncture. A rare few of these tombs were feng shui sites themselves, providing an early source of chi power. Several key tombs remain lost, including Gao Zhang’s, so the hunt continues.
To be fair, the tomb depicted here is more of an emperor’s tomb than a family mausoleum. The Tomb of the First Qin Emperor is the archetype of tombs from pulp stories. Its designers laid the necropolis out like a miniature version of his capital city. “Miniature” is a relative term, as the tomb is 1 1/4 miles in diameter. Period accounts of its construction claim it had crossbow traps and pools of mercury simulated the rivers that ran through the capital city. The legendary terra cotta warriors occupied part of the city. After the Emperor’s funeral, workers buried the whole thing under a 250 foot high mound of earth to look like a hill.
To date, archeologists have not excavated much of the necropolis. Even if the political and cultural issues could be resolved, high levels of mercury in the soil would make excavation of the tomb proper very dangerous.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
If the parties are trying to acquire a fragile object, it might get damaged in the fight. Any time a named character misses an attack roll, they must make a fortune check against a difficulty of 5 to avoid jeopardizing the item. If they fail that roll, they should describe what happens that puts the item at risk. The next named character to go, must do something to save the item or it will break.
The terra cotta soldiers (mooks) guarding the tomb come to life and attack
Ceramic pots will break over somebody’s head, or get thrown as improvised weapons
The stone sarcophagus makes good cover
Until it is blown or knocked open, then somebody gets knocked into it and gets tangled in the remains
Somebody who is very strong can use the lid as an improvised weapon
There are death traps that might be triggered during the fight
Mercury from a pool or river can be thrown at an enemy doing damage as a strong poison
If somebody gets pushed into the mercury fountain, it acts as if they had ingested an extremely toxic poison
Ancient weapons on racks can get picked up and used
The Ancestral Tomb channels the chi of deceased allies to the living. Every character who is attuned to the tomb gets 2 extra wound points for every player character who has died since the start of the current campaign. Characters who die after attunement do not add to this amount. GMs might want to change the awarded wound points depending on how many characters have died and how many extra wound points they want their PCs to have.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
A powerful magic artifact was sealed away in an ancient tomb. The Dragons are racing against other factions to recover the item first. Once the item is recovered, the characters can attune to the site to get some extra wound points as the bad guys try to claim the MacGuffin for themselves.
One of the characters discovers that they are descended from an ancient leader. When he finds the tomb and explores it, he encounters the ghost of this lost ancestor. The ancestor has unfinished business, and the character can pick up a melodramatic hook to finish their ancestors’ task. As an alternative, the ghost might become an NPC mentor to the party, or even another player character if somebody wants to play it.
Ming I has discovered or created a zombie virus, and has infected a town in rural China. Her goal is to create an army of the dead she can use to restore herself to power. The Chinese military tried to intervene, but casualties of the living add to the army of the dead. She seems unstoppable.
With no other recourse, the player characters venture into the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor. If they find a way to activate its army of terra cotta warriors, they will have a force capable of fighting the zombies.
If you want to go wild, this adventure idea can be combined with the two above it. The emperor could be the distant ancestor, and the artifact the item needed to activate the army.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: THE RUST GARDEN
17 October, 2014
So, yesterday brought some exciting news. The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter passed $163,000 and funded the Mook Attack Sheet Generator. That will allow me to take the tool you can find on this site, awesome it up, and give it a permanent home on the Atlas Games website. The new version will incorporate the brilliant graphic styling of the new edition, changing some of the code to work on its own. It might also have a new feature or two. We will see what the Atlas team thinks. I am proud to be able to support, even in this small way, the return of a great game.
Once the Kickstarter ends, later tonight, I will keep updating LostPapyr.us, though on a less frequent basis. It has been a challenge to maintain a 3 day a week publishing schedule for the whole month. I also have content for other games I want to publish.
Enough lamenting the end of the Kickstarter and the 9 months of waiting that are before us. Today, I present one of my favorite locations in the Chi War. The Rust Garden.
Nobody knows how long ago the Netherworld began. The Chi War has rewritten History countless times. Many junctures are no longer remembered by anybody still alive. However, humans are always shedding the detritus of their lives. Much of that waste seems to end up in one place in the Netherworld: the Rust Garden.
The Rust Garden appears as a vast junk yard, rusting away. From the top of any gigantic mound of metal, the edges of the garden appear distant and indistinct. While you can find anything in the Rust Garden, without an attuned guide, it might take you days, weeks, or more to find it.
Back in the first edition days, the Rust Garden was the home and playground of one of the Dragon’s key mentors, the Prof. In the intervening years, she seems to have disappeared without a trace, but the Garden continues on. Whether you are looking for something, or just passing through, travel cautiously and don’t forget your tetanus boosters.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
Almost anything might be found and used as an improvised weapon
Instead of picking up your improvised weapon, pick your opponent and drop him on something sharp and rusty
Multiple mooks might get taken out by a collapsing pile of junk
Bad guys might hide inside rusty cars for an ambush
Two words: Strong magnets
Two more words: Netherworld vermin
Somebody might accidentally turn on an old robot. He’s not happy about being all rusty and nasty.
Ewww, what was that?
The Sylvan Master (see the introductory adventure in the core rulebook), starts talking from some random piece of computer equipment.
The Rust Garden is peculiar in that only a single person can be attuned to it at any time. In order to attune the site you must spend at least a week clearing a space and building your a special workshop just for you. An attuned character gets +2 to all Fit-It rolls. This increases to +3 while in the junkyard and +4 while in your special workshop.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
You can find almost anything in the Rust Garden and the heroes need a MacGuffin. While searching through the Rust Garden, they encounter Simian Army scroungers, non-simian scroungers, some Netherworld thug hiding a body, and their arch-rivals bent on finding the same MacGuffin.
After learning of the Prof the new Dragons travel to the Rust Garden looking for her workshop, hoping to find information or weapons they can use in the Chi War. It is hidden under a large pile of junk, but the heroes can find it. Inside, they find a clue that the Prof is still alive, and in need of their help.
While wandering the Rust Garden, a character finds a treasured toy they lost as a child. Next to the toy is a single bag of garbage from their home as a child. Rummaging through that bag of trash, they find papers and photos that reveal.
During the Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter, I ran a series of blog posts oriented around weekly themes. Each week I had “Mook Monday”, “Weapon Wednesday” and “Feng Shui Site Friday.” The themes included things like “Hollywood” and “Water”. As I relaunch my blog, I’ve decided not to keep the original tiny posts. Instead, I’m grouping them together into three larger ones; “Weapons”, “Mooks”, and “Feng Shui Sites.” Today, we’re going to start with this collection of weapons for Feng Shui 2.
Light Machine Guns
Welcome to Weapon Wednesday, because alliteration is always awesome. No? Well how about because the Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter goes live today! I want to start my series of blog entries with something you can easily use in the introductory adventure, and these certainly fit the bill. Enjoy.
M-249 SAW 13*/6/0
This light machine gun is so good at cutting mooks down, they called it a SAW. I put this bad boy into the hands of the main boss when I ran the introductory Feng Shui 2 adventure. Be sure to describe the awesomeness of the ammo belt looping around over his shoulders. There’s plenty of hot lead to go around…
While it doesn’t have a cool name, the M-60 has been a staple of American action movies since the early ’80s. They are rarer in Hong Kong movies, but you can see one in the weapon cache in Hard Boiled. Characters, good or bad, with European ties might use the HK 21, which has the same stats.
The AK-47 of light machine guns. The RPK is cheap, functional, and relatively easy to get hold of. While the large magazine looks impressive, nothing compares to 200 rounds on a belt of bullets slung over your shoulder.
Wrapping up our urban jungle week, we have 3 compact shotguns for mean streets and close quarters of an urban environment.
I don’t know why this little piece of awesome from South Africa doesn’t appear in all the movies. It looks like a fat UZI with a fore-grip that is actually the pump action. Special, shortened 12-gauge ammunition is loaded in a magazine through the handle. This means that the MAG-7 can be reloaded in only 3 shots.
Serbu Super Shorty 13/3/6
A concealable pump-action shotgun. So what if it only has 3 shots, when they are 3 12-gauge shots. The less well named Franci PA3 has the same stats. Because of their lower capacity, reloading these shotguns takes 3 shots.
Sawed-off Side-by-side Shotgun 13/3/7
The classic double-barreled shotgun with the stock removed and the barrel cut down to less than the legal 18”. Because it only holds 2 shells, this shotgun can be reloaded in 3 shots.
Wrapping up Ocean week, we have three “water guns”. Not the Super Soaker kind, but the kind that can shoot underwater, including a big one to take down aquatic demons.
Friday starts a new week, with an interesting new theme. Come back and check it out!
H&K P11 9/3/5
Designed by Heckler & Koch for special forces units. The P11 has 5 chambers which are sealed, allowing the gun to fire while submerged. Relatively rare in the movies, Angelina Jolie used one in the second Tomb Raider movie.
The classic underwater weapon, a large rubber band, drives a barbed stick into the target. It is hard to find an underwater action sequence that doesn’t have some of these.
Harpoon 13/ — /6
This is not Queequeg’s whaling spear. That is a spear (10 damage). This is a large, deck-mounted launcher from a modern whaling ship. The launched harpoon has an explosive warhead and a rope connecting to the launcher. A successful hit on any target restrains it. The target must make its attack against a defense of 13 to get free. If the target is very large (can you say demon?) the explosive charge will go off inside of it. This deals an additional 20 points of damage which ignores all toughness.
The Weapons of Hollywood
This week’s theme is “Action!” We are exploring the fun that could be had by incorporating the movie industry into your campaign. Action! Week has brought fight scenes on a sound stage and movie industry NPC’s. So we will wrap up the week with the Guns of Hollywood. What does that mean? These are the crazy, impractical, but still awesome weapons that Hollywood dreams up for action movies.
M134 Minigun, Handheld (13**/7/3)
The M134 is a real thing. Its six barrels fire 7.62mm ammunition at up to 6,000 rounds per minute. The weight of the gun (85 pounds), batteries and ammunition mean that this weapon must be mounted on a vehicle. And the military mounts them on helicopters, boats and Hummers. The handheld model from Predator and Terminator 2 are pure Hollywood imagination.
Like lots of big guns in action movies, the M134 isn’t more effective than other machine guns, it just looks awesome. If you want to make it special, it requires the schticks Strong or Very Strong to wield, and gives the wielder a level in Carnival of Carnage. Level IV is still the highest, though.
Codpiece Revolver 9/1/5
Originally made as a gag prop for Desperado, Robert Rodriguez thought it was funny enough to use in at least two other films.
EM-1 Rail Gun 13/5/3
Firing “aluminum rounds at close to the speed of light,” the EM-1, from Eraser (if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother) is complete BS. Its X-Ray scope is BS. The movie is total BS, so maybe that is to be expected. However, the EM-1 makes a good skin for a “futuristic sniper rifle” that might be in the hands of the Jammers, NSA or Buro remnants.
Magic weapons should be rare. They should also be awesome. The sorcerous weapons below make good McGuffins for an adventure. However, if a hero is going to use it long term, it should probably cost them a schtick — either one gained through advancement, or replacing one they already have.
Sword of Biting 10
This Dao, a curved Chinese broadsword, is enchanted by the spirit or its original owner. It lusts to avenge those who critically injure or kill its wielder. While the sword is being used in combat, each time the wielder takes damage, he can pay a Fortune (or derivative attribute) point to make an immediate counter attack. If the character is forced to keel over while using the Sword of Biting, the sword makes one final attack. This attack uses all the character’s remaining Fortune points and gets a +1 to the attack role for every point used in this manner.
Flying Guillotine 10
A basket with a series of vaguely explained blades around the rim. When thrown over an opponent’s head, it decapitates them and allows the attacks to retrieve the head in the basket. In Feng Shui it works as described against mooks. Against named foes, it is a damage 10 melee weapon, and the decapitation effect is a cinematic description of a killing blow. This weapon should not require a schtick to use.
This ancient sword combines an intricately carved jade dragon hilt with a blade forged in a dragon’s fire. A character attacking with the sword can choose to use their Sorcery skill, instead of Marital Arts, for the attack roll.
Taking Down Big Game
Sometimes in Feng Shui 2 you go up against something really big and tough: a big bruiser, dinosaur, a giant worm, Tanbi Garau. When dealing with such big game, you need a whole new class of weapon.
Weapons this powerful really don’t do extra damage against normal creatures. I believe the technical term is blow through. Bigger targets are another story. These weapons are capped at 13 damage, like other rifles in Feng Shui 2. While some of those rifles have a bonus to hit mooks, these rifles do extra damage against targets with toughness schticks: like the Big Bruiser’s Very Big schtick, or extra wound points. As always, the GM is the final arbiter of what applies.
Double-barrel Big Game Hunting Rifle 13/5/6
The weapon of choice for Victorian aristocrats on safari, and Michael Gross in Tremors. It looks like a double-barrel shotgun, but the barrel is rifled and it fires a variety of very large rounds — .600 and .700 Nitro Express being the two largest. These weapons were the expensive toys of the elites, and they remain costly to this day. A rifle like this does +2 damage to tough opponents.
.700 WTF 13/4/6
For all of you who thought the Full Metal Nutball’s homemade weapons were a crazy idea, I present the .700 WTF. A home made gun, firing homemade bullets out of home modified brass. Actually, it’s still a crazy idea — just in a different way. The .700 WTF is a single-shot weapon. Its bullpup design has two advantages. First, the weapon is short so you can pretend it is concealable. Second, the bolt is right next to your head, so if anything goes wrong with this homemade monster, you are unlikely to suffer for long. It also does +2 damage against tough opponents.
Marlin Model 1895SBL 13/5/4
This is the gun carried by Chris Pratt inJurassic World, and it is pretty much ideal for demon hunting. It compensates for its small round (compared to the other two) by having a magazine capacity of 6. Its stainless steel barrel is weather resistant, and it has a military spec picaninny rail on top for mounting a wide variety of optics and other accessories. The 1895SBL will do an extra point of damage against tough opponents.
I would also allow the Maverick Cop’s Winchester Model 70 to get a similar +1 damage against tough creatures. .458 magnum is plenty big enough.
I’ve been a fan the Fudge (Free-form Universal Donated Gaming Engine) role-playing game since it first appeared in 1995. Fate evolved from Fudge years later, improving on it in many way. One key element of both games was their special dice. However, Fudge and Fate dice were always hard to find; and the original plain white ones with black symbols were kind of sad. So when Grey Ghost Press, started selling packs with 5 sets of 4 dice in several bright colors, I bought some.
OK, I bought a lot of them.
I wanted a set of every color made for myself. And two more sets of every color to give away to players in my convention games. A lack of dice shouldn’t keep people playing Fudge on their own after the con. People really appreciated walking away with their dice.
Fast forward a few years, my interest in Fudge waned, but I still liked the dice. So I picked up a couple sets of the Olympic dice when Grey Ghost released them, and a couple sets of Evil Hat’s Wizard dice when those came out. Glow in the dark dice FTW. More recently, I backed a couple of Kickstarters for Fudge dice that haven’t delivered. Evil Hat’s Fate Core Kickstarter peaked my interest in trying Fate. It turns out, Fate is a lot of fun, and I get to use my funny looking dice again.
Enter the Fate Dice Kickstarter. I don’t know why nobody thought of themed sets of dice before, but that may be the sliced bread of gaming. As the Kickstarter progressed, it was clear that Evil Hat was working very hard to make these dice as good as they could be. You might say they were Invoking all of their aspects to get a Legendary result. I was feeling a little burned by Kickstarters, and didn’t go for two of each set. I bought one of each set in the first batch, and a second pack of the Fate Core set because they just looked so awesome. The second set was far enough out that I decided to see the first ones before spending money on them.
My new Fate dice came yesterday, and they are even better than expected. The color and quality are amazing, and the sets stick to their theme. The claim that the new glyphs would be easier to read, was questionable to me. I thought, it’s a + or a – sign, how hard is that to read. Well, they are easier to read. Even the orange on red of the “fire” dice from the Winter Knight set, is easy to read with the new symbols.
The new Fate dice are just a hair larger than the old Fudge dice. Their weight feels reasonable in your hand, and sounds good when they hit the table. That may sound like a silly criteria, but rolling dice are an important part of the role-playing experience. When I roll dice, I want to know I’ve rolled dice.
There are four different sets available currently:
Atomic Robo (Translucent blue and green, with a pearlized silver)
Winter Knight (Pearlized dark blue, and red, with a light iridescent blue)
My favorite is definitely Fate Core. The rich colors and iridescence make them stand out. They are sparkling gems in my dice bag. The high tech look of the Atomic Robo set makes them my second favorite.
At $15/pack of 12 ($18 for Winter Knight), that is $1.25/die. That is cheaper than Game Science non-Fate dice, and half the price of the Q-Workshop Fudge dice. Do I recommend awesome dice, in cool theme packs, at a good price. Duh! I’ll be picking up my second packs of Centurion, Atomic Robo and Winter Night dice — and two of each of the second wave when they are available.
Am I still giving Fate Dice away? Yup, I’ve got a Fate Traveller game this weekend. All 4 players are new to Fate. Two are new to the hobby entirely. Everybody will walk away with awesome dice.
If you were one of the 3,400 Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter backers, or have since acquired it from one of several fine purveyors of gaming pdfs, you may have noticed these strange square symbols on a few pages in the core rulebook. Those are QR codes. They are typically used to connect real-world object, signs, brochures, etc. to digital content. You use one of several apps on your mobile device to scan the code and get directed to a web page. A QR code in a catalog might take you to an order page, or a campaign brochure might take you a page to learn more about the candidate.
So, where will the Feng Shui 2 QR codes take me?
I’m glad you asked. If you are using an iOS device and the Sylvan Master app is installed, the code will launch the app and load the fight scene with the GMC’s data ready to go. Of course, you want to enter the heroes for your series ahead of time. Once that is done, you don’t need to enter any data for adventures published by Atlas Games. And you don’t have to navigate through the app while your game is in session. Just scan and hit “roll init.”
If you are not on an iOS device, or the app isn’t installed, the QR code will take you a nice web page that tells you about Sylvan Master and how to get the app.
How are you saving me time, if I have to leave the app, open a scanning tool, to be taken back into the app?
The app has a built in scanner. Look for the QR code/magnifying glass icon in the toolbar. The first time you will be prompted to give Sylvan Master permission to access the device’s camera. Once that is done, you can scan the QR codes right from the app. Of course, you can use any other QR code scanner you want to, if that is more convenient.
I can’t scan a QR code when I am reading Feng Shui 2 as a pdf on my device.
Good point. That is why we also made the QR code hyperlinks. Simply tap one in a pdf reader on your device and it will work just like the scanner.
OK, sounds neat. When will I be able to give it a try?
At this point the app is feature complete and in beta testing. I’ve got a good group of testers, which means that they are finding bugs and giving me lots of ideas for improvements. I am on target to put Sylvan Master up for sale on the app store before the Feng Shui 2 books start shipping. However, given the vagaries of getting app store approval and printing/shipping, both schedules are difficult to pin down. This is software, after all, so I am in good company if I answer with the proverbial “soon.”
This was an article I wrote back in 2008 for the premier issue of Danger Magnet magazine. Last week was Howard Carter’s 138th birthday and an exciting new Egypt Exhibit is coming to the Boston Science Museum later this month. So the subject article has been on my mind. Enjoy.
“Can you see anything?” Lord Carnarvon asked. “Yes, wonderful things!”
“Can you see anything?” Lord Carnarvon asked. “Yes, wonderful things!”
Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon
Howard Carter‘s excavations of Tutankhamun’s tomb (or “King Tut” as the ancient boy Pharaoh is known in popular culture) appear to have been a straightforward and routine exercise in research, patience, and persistence. While the discovery process may have been dull, the discoveries themselves were anything but. Carter spent nearly a quarter of a century searching for and excavating the tomb that changed the world’s understanding of ancient Egypt forever. The road he traveled to the discovery, that would make his name famous, was long and challenging, to say the very least.
PUBLIC HISTORY OF HOWARD CARTER
In 1874, Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Great Britain, the most influential and powerful nation in the world. That same year, Howard Carter was born in Kensington, near London. A year later, Britain purchased Egypt‘s share in the Suez Canal, and in 1882, Egypt was made a protectorate of the British Empire. The ancient land was all but absorbed as sovereign territory firmly under the control of the British Crown.
Early in his childhood, Carter was moved away from the disease and congestion of London to Swaffham, a small market town in the county of Norfolk, where he was raised by his two maiden aunts. As he grew up, Howard demonstrated great talent as an artist. He was trained by his father, a respected painter of the time.
Carter’s aspirations lay elsewhere, and his career in archaeology began when he was only seventeen. At that young age he traveled to Egypt to work on the excavations of several tombs at Beni Hasan. He recorded the inscriptions and paintings in the tombs by hanging tracing paper over them and copying them. He often lamented that this method produced poor results and wished that he could work freehand, but ultimately did as he was told.
In the following years, Carter worked on several different excavations, and became known for his practical abilities and attention to detail. In 1899, he took a position as one of two Chief Inspectors with the Egyptian Antiquities Service. As such, he was responsible for overseeing the Service‘s excavations, and inspecting those of foreign archaeologists as well. In 1905, Howard left this position after an incident with several drunken French tourists. Accounts of the incident vary wildly, but Carter‘s story was that the tourists forced entry into a tomb at Saqqara without paying, and roughed up some of Carter‘s Egyptian employees after being refused candles to see inside. Carter authorized, and some say even assisted, the Egyptians use of fisticuffs to defend themselves. The French filed an official complaint and demanded an apology from Carter. When Carter refused, his dismissal became inevitable, and he resigned.
This turn of events would eventually prove to be a stroke of luck for Carter. While he had a couple of hard years, in 1907 he met the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert — more simply known as Lord Carnarvon. Carnarvon was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities, and fancied himself a gentleman Egyptologist. Impressed with Carter’s abilities, he agreed to finance Carter‘s excavations in the Valley of the Kings, near Thebes.
Working with American lawyer Theodore Davis, Carter found a pit filled with linens and other embalming materials marked with the seal of Tutankhamun. Previously, Davis had found an exquisite cup with Tut‘s name on it, and a funerary cache that had apparently been moved from Armarna and sealed by the Pharaoh. While Davis disregarded this evidence, Carter became convinced that this previously unknown pharaoh was buried in the valley.
Carter started a series of diggings for the tomb in 1914. Eight years later, after the 1921 digging season, Lord Carnarvon informed Carter that he would no longer provide funding for the excavations. Carter pleaded for one more season, agreeing that if nothing turned up he would pay for it himself, and Carnarvon reluctantly agreed.
Persistent and methodical, Carter picked up where he left off, below the tomb of Ramses VI. After only five days, on November 4, 1922, he found the top of a staircase that would descend into the tomb he sought, hidden under some ancient workmen’s huts for 3,000 years. It took only 22 days to enter the first chamber, but it would take nearly nine years to fully excavate the tomb.
Lord Carnarvon was there the day Carter peered into the tomb for the first time and he asked Carter a single question: Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter‘s reply, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Barely five months after the tomb‘s discovery, Lord Carnarvon died of pneumonia.
The tomb would prove to be the best preserved royal burial chambers ever to be unearthed, having only been broken into twice centuries earlier, with the thieves being unable to penetrate beyond the first chamber. Many of the wonderful artifacts associated with ancient Egypt to this day were discovered inside. These discoveries included the Pharaoh’s mummy and his now-famous opulent golden burial mask.
During the 1924 off-season, Carter gave a series of lectures, beginning in New York City. For over two months, he traveled throughout the United States and Canada, speaking to sold-out crowds about his discoveries. Soon thereafter, fed by the sensational press covering his discoveries, “Egyptomania” would sweep the globe, with the world becoming absolutely fascinated with anything and everything to do with ancient Egypt. This fascination continued through the 30’s, inspiring the 1932 film “The Mummy” (starring Boris Karloff), and innumerable stories in the “pulp” novels and magazines of the pre-war period. This fascination with ancient Egypt continues to this day.
After completing the excavation of the tomb in 1931, Carter retired to follow in Lord Carnarvon‘s footsteps as a successful collector of Egyptian antiquities. He ended up with several items from Tut’s tomb, though it was never clear if he obtained these in violation of his excavation permit, from the open market, or from Carnarvon‘s collection.
In his later years, Carter spent a lot of time in the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor. People would say that he whiled away the days, sitting on the hotel veranda, staring in the direction of Tut’s tomb, totally lost in thought. Carter was never a healthy man, and in the late 1930‘s, illness forced him to return to Kensington, requiring the full-time care of a nurse. On March 2nd, 1939, at the age of 64, he died from lymphoma. His funeral was small, attended by fewer than 30 people.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF CARTER AND LORD CARNAVON
In the world of Hollow Earth Expedition, the group known as the Terra Arcanum has worked for thousands of years to protect and keep secret the mysteries of the Hollow Earth. Their con￼spiracies crossed Carter‘s path early in his career. The group was funding and operating its own digs in Egypt. Their motivations ranged from finding and selling antiquities from their digs to fund other operations to recovering lost secrets related to the Hollow Earth before they might be exposed to the world. Their efforts were thwarted repeatedly by the probing questions of Howard Carter, the Chief Inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. Carter was stubborn and inquisitive, and his refusal to be satisfied with vague answers from the Terra Arcanum’s field operatives often led him to more deeply investigate their efforts, causing interminable delays and other problems for Terra Arcanum.
Carnarvon, a highly placed Overseer within Terra Arcanum, was responsible for much of the Egyptian activity conducted by the London Chapter House. Carnarvon was instructed to address the situation. Instead of simply having Cart3er killed, Carnavon knew that the man‘s stubbornness could be his downfall. Carnavon alsorealized that Carter’s talents could likely be turned to serve the Terra Arcanum’s own excavation efforts. Carnarvon arranged the French tourist incident in Saqqara in order to have Carter dismissed, and thereby remove him as a threat. He let Carter suffer a couple of lean years before recruiting him to work on Terra Arcanum projects, as well as finance Carter’s own research.
When Carter uncovered the first evidence of Tutankhamun‘s tomb, Carnarvon was dismissive because Tut was virtually unknown, with no mention within the voluminous and comprehensive records of the Terra Arcanum records. However, Theodore Davis, an Overseer working for the Paris Chapter House, became convinced himself of Tut‘s reality, finding evidence that the discovery of Tut’s might be very dangerous to the Terra Arcanum’s mission. Davis was unable to stop Carter’s search for Tut‘s tomb before his own death at the age of 78 in 1915.
During the long years searching for the tomb, Carter discovered that Carnarvon himself had mysterious backers, quickly deducing the Terra Arcanum‘s existence. Long a believer in ancient secrets himself, it was an easy task for the London Chapter House of the Terra Arcanum to recuit Carter, and he was initiated as an Overseer in 1920. When Carter found Tut‘s tomb in 1922, some of the Secret Masters saw credence in Davis‘ theory and tried to shut the operation down. Davis‘ replacement poisoned Carnarvon and spread rumors of a curse — Terra Arcanum was no stranger to internal conflicts that often ended in the death of a rival.
Carter, while saddened by the loss of his friend, refused to give up the excavation. He convinced the Grand Master in London to continue the operation, promising to deliver whatever secrets were found to the Grand Master. The Grand Master agreed, seeing a way to potentially increase his own power, while diminishing that of his rival, the Grand Master in Paris. Carter’s excavations did, in fact, reveal one great secret, the evidence of which Carter quietly passed to London — the Mystery of the Aten.
THE MYSTERY OF THE ATEN
The power wrangling and control of Terra Arcanum is not a recent development — their conspiracies go back well over 3,000 years, when the Hollow Earth still existed in legends and the Terra Arcanum struggled to control the Pharaohs of Egypt through the priesthood of Karnak.
During the 18th Dynasty, a religious revolution started by two successive Pharoahs, both enlightened and headstrong, briefly wrested control of Egypt from the Secret Masters. In the aftermath, evidence of this event was buried in the tomb of an 18 year-old Pharaoh, and his memory almost completely purged from history.
In 1380 BC, Amenhotep III reintroduced an obscure sun god to Egypt, the Aten. It was his son, Amenhotep IV, who brought the Aten to prominence. Amenhotep IV renamed himself Akhenaten (Servant of Aten), and moved the capital of Egypt from Thebes to the city now known as Armarna. He declared the Aten as the one true god, and forbade worship of all others. He even attempted to purge the names of the old gods from temples all along the Nile.
This religious revolution, along the movement of the capital, greatly reduced the influence and power of the priesthood at Karnak, thus increasing the power of the Pharaoh. Akhenaten also took the incredible step of sharing power with his first wife, Nefertiti, brilliant and powerful in her own right.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti ruled in Armarna for 20 years. Obsessed with evangelizing their new religion, near constant plague and internal unrest weakened Egypt until Akhenaten died. A mysterious and obscure figure, Smenkhkare, reigned as regent less than a year before Akhenaten’s son, the nine-year-old Tutankhaten, took power. Tutankhaten quickly abandoned the religion and city of his father, renaming himself Tutankhamun, and restoring the worship of the old gods. This restored the power of the priesthood, bringing the old order back to Egypt. His reign would be brief, however, with his life cut short at the age of 18. Tutankhamun was all but forgotten until his tomb was rediscovered in the 20th Century by Howard Carter.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF IMHOTEP AND THE HOLLOW EARTH
More than a millennia earlier, Terra Arcanum records indicate that around 2600 BC Imhotep, high priest and architect of the Pyramids, discovered the Hollow Earth. Imhotep traveled into the Hollow Earth, seeking wisdom that he believed would save Egypt from internal strife and discontent. Upon his return to the surface world, Imhotep realized the danger of the power that he uncovered, and soon found himself recruited and indoctrinated within the Terra Arcanum. With the Terra Arcanum’s backing, he initiated the largest building projects conceived since those of the Atlanteans themselves. Imhotep quickly rose to the Inner Circle, and from that point the Terra Arcanum would use the priesthood to exert control over Egypt and its powerful Pharaohs.
This state of affairs continued for over 1,000 years until Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun’s grandfather, discov- ered a secret cache of Imhotep‘s records that had not been destroyed. Although a brilliant scholar, Amenhotep misunderstood Imhotep‘s reference to a great power in the sky (i.e. the Hollow Earth‘s sun) and began worshipping the sun as “the Aten,” albeit in a minor way. After his death, his son renamed himself Akhenaten, taking the worship of the Aten to the next level.
When the Terra Arcanum, through the priests of Karnak, tried to stop the new religion, Akhenaten began to suspect that there was a greater conspiracy at work. He moved the capital and tried to strip them of power. Additionally, he started expeditions to find the lost Temple of the Aten, as described by Imhotep.
The priests fought back. They spread a plague in Armarna and eventually assassinated Akhenaten. Intimidated by the priests’ powers and fearing for her life and that of her step-son Tutankhaten, Nefertiti disguised herself and took the throne as regent, using the name Smenkhkare. In accord with the will of the priests, “Smenkhkare” began the de-Atenization of Eqypt, which continued under Tutankhamun, restoring the traditional gods to Egypt.
Tutankhamun ruled just long enough to ensure a return to the old ways, before dying of mysterious causes. The last evidence of the conspiracy to depose Akhenaten was entombed with Tut, ￼and over time, the priests worked to erase any evidence of the young king‘s existence. The tomb was discovered by thieves twice and resealed both times. The priests who served Terra Arcanum were concerned that if the tomb were looted its secret would be revealed, so 170 years after Tut‘s death, the priests started construction of Ramses VI‘s tomb, on top of Tut‘s. This act obliterated any evidence that Tut‘s tomb existed. Eventually even the Terra Arcanum would forget what happened, just as the Secret Masters wished… However, they did not foresee that they would set the stage for another crisis that could unravel centuries of their conspiracies when, in 1922, Howard Carter unsealed the inner chambers of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman who ever lived, Nefertiti was a powerhouse in her day. She ruled next to Akhenaten as co-regent and was instrumental in the new religion they tried to introduce. She may also have been the Pharaoh Smenkhkare who ruled after Akhenaten.
Her mummy has never conclusively been identified, so perhaps she followed the Aten to the Hollow Earth where she reigns again, thousands of years older.
SEEDING YOUR STORY
Sickly and slowly dying of lymphoma, Howard Carter contacts the PCs, seeking their help. He has had a profound change of heart about preserving the secrets he kept, and he now believes that the truth of the Hollow Earth might inspire humanity to avert the coming world war. He wants to send the PCs to recover scrolls and other evidence he has hidden, and then deliver them to an agent of the Brotherhood of Man (see Secrets of the Surface World, p.53). Carter is in London, the artifacts are in another city, and the Brotherhood agent is in a third, so this is an excellent adventure to showcase the various cities of Europe and the Middle East in 1936, as described in SotSW.
Henry Herbert, the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, has uncovered evidence that his father did not die of pneumonia as was reported. Suspecting foul play, the 6th Earl hires the PCs to find out who is responsible for his father’s death. Howard Carter may or may not be involved, but he is definitely the first stop in their search for clues.
The PCs stumble upon Nefertiti in an Atlantean temple in the Hollow Earth, still amazingly alive and vibrant after all this time. Upon learning that her stepson‘s tomb has been discovered, she offers a huge reward if his body is returned to her along with those responsible for disturbing him. If the ill Howard Carter is brought to Hollow Earth, Nefertiti comes to love him and heals his lymphoma. They live long and happy lives learning from one another. Alternatively, in her long exile, spent in deep contemplation of Atlantean secrets, the PCs arrival stirs her to return to the surface world… as a conqueror!
Click, click, click. Light from the naked bulb reflected off polished brass as bullet after bullet found their way home into the magazine. A man in a nicely tailored suit dropped the full clip onto the bed next to his MP-5 and started filling the fourth one. Nearby, a large man in jeans with a cricket bat paced around the small room.
A small wisp of a woman sat cross-legged, with her eyes closed, balanced on the edge of a worn desk. “Will you please stop pacing? Breathe. Focus.”
“I can’t,” the man replied, taking a swing at the air with his bat. “I’ve been waiting for this chance. It’s time to get back into the action.”
The suit spoke. “Then let’s go. It is time to let The Jade Wheel knows we are back in town.”
Tomorrow, at 8pm EDT, the Kickstarter for Feng Shui 2 will launch. I have waited a long time for this, and it is going to be amazing. My love of Feng Shui, goes back to the original edition. We were just finishing up a play test of GURPS Reign of Steel, when my good friend Lou Prosperi said, “Hey, we should try this next. Action movie roleplaying. Steve, there’s this killer archetype they made just for you…”
It was quite a jump from the gritty reality of GURPS to the cinematic melodrama of Feng Shui. However, once I tried the game, there wasn’t any going back. I did everything. I ran events at Gen Con (back when Gen Con was in Milwaukee). Wrote an article for Pyramid Magazine and started my first gaming website with more content for the game. I even toyed with the notion of starting a game company and publishing Feng Shui products under license back in 1997.
But people move, kids are born and new games appear. For years, I ran the occasional one-shot adventure, while hoping that someday a new edition would appear. When I heard about the Feng Shui 2 play test, I jumped on board. Now, two play test sessions, several thousand words of feedback and 4 Gen Con demos later; the Kickstarter is finally upon us.
To Celebrate this auspicious moment, I will release a series of short blog posts for Feng Shui 2. Some of the content comes from my original website, upgraded for new awesome. Much of it, however, is new material I toyed with over the intervening years. I’ve got an enormous pile of bad guys who need their butts kicked, cool locations to kick those butts, and new weapons to use in the kicking.
Northern Avistan has seen a lot of activity over the last couple of years. The Jade Regent Adventure Path took us through the Lands of the Linorm Kings and over the Crown of the World. And, the current Reign of Winter Adventure Path features Irrisen and the White Witches that rule there. Additionally, Paizo has published a variety of supplements supporting those APs.
Before all of these Kobold Press published a supplement with a different take on many of the same icy themes. Set in Midgard, Northlands covers Vikings, ice magic, monsters of Northern mythologies and the perils of adventuring in the cold. The book uses the Pathfinder rules, so its crunch is readily adoptable to Golarion. Additionally, I found the fluff inspirational as well. This is first of a series of blog posts detailing how I ported and extended the material in Northlands for my own campaign. The Wyrm Rhyme Saga, is a Viking dragon hunt set in the kingless Icemark region of Golarion.
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Even with our modern understanding the Aurora Borealis is magical. If you are lucky enough to see the twisting, dancing colors of the northern lights in person, you cannot help but contemplate the mystical. The Aurora plays a role as the Bifrost bridge in Northlands, but we need a explanation rooted in Golarion cosmology. The explanation below ties in to the fey themes prevalent in Irrissen and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. It also taps into the darker mysteries of the mythos, and sets up a possible conflict between the two.
Most, who understand such things, know that the Aurora occurs when the boundaries between our world and the first world are particularly thin. This is true enough, but it doesn’t explain why the lights are not seen in other parts of Golarion where our world touches the First World.
The few who have truly studied this question, came to realize there is a connection to the Dark Tapestry. They believe energies from the Dark Tapestry are being attracted to the Northern and Southern ends of the world by the same force that attracts wayfinder needles. These energies are being channeled into the First World. However, a few of the White Witches in Whitethrone think even these sages are wrong. They believe energy from the First World that is being channeled into the Dark Tapestry. They can only guess what purpose the gods of the Dark Tapestry might have for this energy.
The Hyperborean race is described on page 37 of Northlands. They are humans who are born under the influence of the Aurora Borealis. Those born in daylight are very different from those born at night. The dayborn are described as being more direct (fighters or other marshall classes), while the nightborn are more subtle (preferring rogues or bards). Both do well as sorcerers, particularly with the Hyperborean bloodline described on page 43. Because of the Aurora’s connection to other planes, I added racial traits and preferred class options to make Hyperboreans in Golarion excel as summoners.
There are several ethnicities where exposure to the Aurora makes birth as a Hyperborean possible. The two most likely are the Varki of the Icemark (Land of the Linnorm Kings, p. 18) and the Erutaki (People of the North, p. 12). These nomadic people lead a harsh existence and welcome those chosen by the ancestors as Hyperborean.
Hyperborean births are less common among the Kellid and Ulfen (People of the North p. 6 & p.10) peoples. Furthermore, those people distrust of magic in general and witches in particular can lead to a hard life of persecution. I decided any Jadwiga (People of the North, p. 13) born as Hyperborean is slain by the White Witches of Irrisen as an impure, outside influence. However, you could argue that the rarity of the magic they posses would lead them to be nurtured. A Hyperborean Winter Witch could be terrible indeed.
When making a Hyperborean character a player should select a base Human ethnicity for the character. Racial traits available to that ethnicity are available to the Hyperborean character. In addition, the following Hyperborean racial traits are available for selection.
Shunned by Fools: While your tribe may have come to accept you, many peoples of the North fear magic. Because of your strange appearance and connection to the Aurora, they fear you as well. You have learned to mask your heritage as you interact with other peoples. Disguise is always a class skill for you and you get a +1 trait bonus to disguise to hide your heritage.
Planar Empathy: Because of your connection to the Arura, you relate well to beings from other planes. You gain a +1 bonus to diplomacy and bluff checks against these beings. This bonus increases to +2 if the being’s alignment is within one step of yours.
OPTIONS FOR DAYBORN HYPERBOREANS
The following new alternate racial traits and favored class options can be applied to dayborn characters as described in the Advanced Players Guide.
ALTERNATE RACIAL TRAITS
Snow Walker (Ex): For the purpose of overland movement, dayborn treat all tundra, and snow covered mountains and hills as “highway.” This ability replaces the +2 racial bonus to Knowledge (Planes).
Earth Resistance: Some dayborn feel a strong affinity to the rocky, wind-shaped landscape that surrounds them. They receive a +1 racial bonus to saves earth based magic and effects, including acid attacks. This bonus increases by +1 for every 4 class levels they have. This ability replaces fire resistance.
Planar Halation(Ex): Dayborn summoners treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all summoner class abilities. This racial trait replaces Prismatic Affinity.
FAVORED CLASS OPTIONS
Druid: The druid’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to fire.
Fighter: The fighter gets +1 to their CMD when resisting a disarm or trip maneuver.
Ranger: The ranger’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to fire.
Sorcerer: +1/2 point of damage to light or prismatic spells.
Summoner: Add 10% to the ranges in the summoner’s Life Link ability. If this option is taken multiple times, add another 10% of the original value. In other words, the ranges if this ability is taken 3 times the range bands are 130 feet, 1,300 feet, and 13,000 feet.
OPTIONS FOR NIGHTBORN HYPERBOREANS
ALTERNATE RACIAL TRAITS
Aurora Bringer (Sp): Nightborn can use Faerie Fire and Color Spray once per day with a caster level equal to their class level. This trait replaces the Dark Demeanor trait.
Cold Resistance (Ex): The nightborn character gain a +1 to saves against cold-based magic and effects. The bonus increases by +1 for every 4 character levels they have. This trait replaces Air Resistance.
Planar Halation(Ex): Nightborn summoners treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all summoner class abilities. This racial trait replaces Prismatic Affinity.
FAVORED CLASS OPTIONS
Druid: The Druid’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to cold.
Rogue: +1/2 bonus on stealth and perception checks made in dim light or darkness.
Sorcerer: +1/3 to the Saving Throw DC for light or prismatic spells.
Summoner: Add 10% to the ranges in the Summoner’s Life Link ability. If this option is taken multiple times, add another 10% of the original value. In other words, the ranges if this ability is taken 3 times the range bands are 130 feet, 1,300 feet, and 13,000 feet.
I have been a fan of Paizo’sGame Mastery cards for a while now. Their treasure cards are great, especially when playing with new and younger players. For new players a sheet of cards in a binder makes it easy for them to keep track of what they have and what it does. For the video game set, the tactile reward of getting a card is engaging in the same way that achievements are.
The fun my group had with the treasure cards opened my mind to the possibilities offered by Paizo’s Critical Hit Deck. This a deck of 52 cards. Each card contains 4 critical hit results, one for each of slashing, piercing, bludgeoning and magic damage. When you confirm a critical hit, you simple draw a card and apply the appropriate bonus. This is a fun way to make every critical hit different and more exciting.
Given the simple fun provided by the physical Critical Hit Deck, I expected iCrit to be pretty good. I wasn’t disappointed.
You don’t expect much from an app that simulates drawing from a deck of cards, but still I was pleasantly surprised by simple UI for iCrit. When you start the app, you see a screen that is very easy to understand. There are 4 blank areas labeled: bludgeoning, piercing, slashing, and magic. When you confirm a critical hit, just touch the appropriate symbol on the left and the special result of your critical hit is displayed next to it. You then apply the result and move on with your combat. Couldn’t be easier.
I had expected that I would touch the screen or swipe and get a whole new card, but the apps interface is even better. When I draw a card, I see results for 4 damage types, 3 of which I don’t need. Part of the fun on these effects is the surprise of getting something new. So, I like that this UI only shows me one result at a time. I also like that it will keep old results up for review, at least until I use that damage type again.
There are sounds effects that play when you touch the damage type symbols. Each is different, and fun. Critical hits don’t happen often enough that they get annoying.
The help screen is straightforward, containing the same basic information as the instruction cards in the deck.
USEFULNESS & VALUE
Critical hits are one of the most fun parts of Pathfinder. Nothing gets people out of their chairs in excitement like a critical hit at the right time. Two bucks to make that even more fun and interesting? Yes, please!
If you are using other apps, on the same device, I could see it getting tedious switching to iCrit to get the special effect. I think the best usage would be for 1 or 2 players to keep it up on their phones, ready for use. However, I suspect with a little practice, the 4 clicks to get a critical result can be done efficiently so as not to interfere with the moment.
iCrit is an excellent app. It does a simple thing, really well. It is probably even better than the deck of cards that inspired it, if for no other reason than it is cheaper and just as easy to use. I’m having fun with it, and I think you will too.
We’ll kick things off with a “blast from the past” as I try to get some old content back online. Hollow Earth Expedition, by Exile Game Studio, is one of my favorite games of all time. Here are some new archetypes to inspire character creation in HEX.
Servants accomplish much of what gets done in the world. They carry supplies, remove obstacles and handle many other details. In the 1930s, wealthy people will have personal servants and any expedition will have several laborers to move the expedition along. Servants may also blend in and mingle with working class society, becoming a source of local information. Servants are not mindless automatons. They have their own goals and motivations and can be key contributors to any expedition.
The youthful combination of curiosity and naïveté leads kids to turn up in all kinds of surprising places, including the Hollow Earth. Kids seem to find trouble, but their small stature and harmless appearance can get them out of many situations. While they may not have much in the way of useful skills, they may have exceptional local knowledge and a fresh perspective. Frequently underestimated, exceptional children can be worth the inevitable pain.
Examples: Street Urchin, Spoiled Brat, Teenaged Runaway
Mules, camels, sled dogs and elephants; these pack animals carry supplies over difficult terrain with a reliability that vehicles of the 30s can’t match. People with the skills to handle and care for these animals are essential to any successful trek into the wilderness. These individuals may also have valuable skills for dealing with the local fauna the expedition might encounter. Animal handlers don’t like to risk their animals, but an expedition can provide a way to pay the bills.
Examples: Cavalry Officer, Teamster, Dog Handler
Everyday Joes are the right people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe she was on vacation when her ship gets caught in the Bermuda Triangle, or maybe the bank financing the expedition sent him along to audit the expenses. Once over their head, the Everyday Joe will persevere and survive; and maybe find enough gold to pay off that mortgage.
Examples: Cook, Bureaucrat, Bartender
NEW PHYSICAL FLAW
Physical Flaws are an important part of character creation in Hollow Earth Expedition. Here is a new one that may be relevant to a Kid (above) or a Scion of Atlantis. Of course, any archetype could use it if it makes for a great character.
Youth: Your character is young, impatient and inexperienced. He does not have the same rights as the other party members and others will often treat him like the child he is. If you are a teenager you are size 0, if you are younger than that you are size -1. You also suffer a -2 penalty to any roll that depends upon age or experience, like a roll to recognize somebody famous or remember some historical event. You earn a Style Point whenever your character’s standing (physical, emotional, or social) causes him severe difficulties.