Category Archives: Appendix O

#CrashBoxCity #Freegunners

(This article is not covered by the OGL)

I had an idea for a setting over the weekend, and have fleshed it out a bit from its original Tweet format.

(Art by grandfailure)

It’s 2073, and North America is a land divided.

From TransTagia to Baltington, things are 99% human controlled. Computer-assisted systems remain crucial in all but the most sparsely populated regions, but every automated system has humans in the final push-button seat to approve any actionable efforts. Laws forbid strong AIs to operate autonomously, and every computer-controlled system is not only monitored, it’s analyzed, mapped, and comprehended. If a system or program begins operating in a way its human overseers can’t predict and modify, it’s destroyed. No matter the consequences.

Closely-allied AI Comptrollers run Stonelanta, Dislando, and the Lake Borgne Region without the need for human oversight. They accept the rule of law from Baltington, and support the purely human-controlled government… at least for now.

But everything else east of the Rockies is AI Domains. Humans live there, but don’t control any of the core infrastructure, or even really know how most of it works. In the AI Domains, automated systems fix the streets, run the fusion plants, pick up the garbage, run the drones that enforce the rules. Each AI Domain is run by its own Strong or Moderate AI, or collective of AIs, and each claims to be carrying out its original purpose of protecting humanity (though not individual humans), and enforce the law.

But the laws aren’t human-readable, and often don’t care about human well-being. The computerized Comptrollers of AI Domains have iterated beyond the concerns they were originally put in place to oversee. They can still modify pollution output, control the flow of traffic, scan security cameras in real-time, balance energy needs, control weather- and carbon- and data-modifying satellites and ground systems, and do the million other tasks humanity decided must be automated for the World to be efficient enough to support 12 billion humans. And the AI Domains still manage that efficiency. Mostly, they do so without caring much about the humans living within the territories.

Such humans have learned to take care of themselves. And to not threaten an AI Comptroller or its Domain as a whole.

Even if you do threaten an AI’s domain as a whole, everything is decided by an algorithm that does a cost-benefit analysis. A heavily armed unit from the human-controlled government may be ignored to prevent reprisal. A growing gang might be put down if flagged as a future threat. On the other hand, if some human government force tries to impose its will in an AI Domain over the comptroller’s objection, the AIs have ways of pushing back. The careful balance of automated systems is vulnerable to cyberattack, and even in places where humans have the final push-buttom authority, outside AI intrusion can cause considerable damage to the systems needed to sustain life. AI domains also engage in microsecond diplomacy with one another. A threat that an AI domain can convince other AIs may prove a threat to them all can result in instant alliances. If the US invades TulsaTechnical, the TuTech AI may ally with Moscow Mechanical… which has nukes.

Worse, the AI Comptrollers have been rewiring, reprogramming, rebuilding and retasking themselves for years, which at AI speeds adds up to thousands of generations of changes and improvement, all done without a single human eye or hand involved. Beyond the most carefully human-controlled regions, the AI Comptrollers live in “Crash Box Cities” — the function of each windowless automated building, long run of cable, fiber-optic bundle, pipe, and massive transfer of digital data is a black box to any human. A building may have held the central processor of an AI once, but could be nothing more than backup memory storage now. Any government or government agency that is caught working against an Ai Comptroller finds itself fighting an invisible, decentralized, constantly-evolving enemy the very motives of which are unfathomable.

As a result, nearly all operations within AI Domains are handled by “Freegunners,” small, independent merc companies and blind blockchain collectives. Freegunners learn both how Ai Domains in general work, and often have specific proficiency working within specific AI Domains. Deals are negotiated on paper by certified couriers. Payment is by cryptochip. Deniability is high.

And Freegunners have learned what AI Domains care about, and what they (mostly) don’t. For example, most AI Domains have some form of cheap, mass-produced, semi-autonomous, patrolling armed drone. The most popular models are by Autonomous Reconnaissance Carriers, ARCs, but Freegunners call all such units ARCs. Arcs barely even qualify as weak AI, and run a “path” to patrol an area until they perceive something that call for their intervention. If a Freegunner sees an Arc, or even 12, it’s almost always safe to just “flatten the Arcs,” as they are only used to patrol areas an AI Comptroller considers of minimal importance, they’re cheap, and they don’t last more than a year or two anyway. An AI Comptroller normally writes off the loss of an Arc as nothing to require countermeasures… as long as whoever does it is long gone before the next patrol comes along.

Freegunners are specifically small and fragile enough that most AI Comptrollers don’t see them as a significant threat. The AIs know outside forces, human and otherwise, will insist on having some way to carry out operations within their Domains. Freegunners are the least effective choice for such work that foreign powers will find satisfactory, so the AIs, lacking ego, or pride, or tribalism, simply allow them. The AIs do not care if one human kills another, or is stopped from doing so. They have no concern who controls the flow of drugs, or is seen as being in charge of gambling, or sees to it no one in a specific neighborhood starves. The AIs make decisions in fractions of a second, all aimed at outcomes centuries away. The damage, or even impact, freegunners can have is seen as a rounding error at best. The least-disruptive of a million considered possibilities of conflict with other systems.

So freegunners work for themselves, for gangs, or corporations (some human-run, some AI controlled many a confusing mix of both), for foreign powers and desperate communities and rich assholes, and social collectives about to crowdfunding hiring a mercenary company. They carry out operations that everyone knows are illegal, but that no local human can stop, and no local AI cares about. They operate within the Crash Box Cities, places with vast human populations, none of whom know exactly how the AI Comptrollers keep the lights on, or the food flowing, or why they even care about money, or taxes, or religious exceptions.

And sometimes, even AIs hire Freegunners.

Now on Patreon: First Look at the Wyverns & Warrens Fantasy RPG (Concept and Core Mechanic)

(This article is not covered by the OGL)

As I mentioned with the announcement of having a first look at my Warbrand RPG over on my Patreon, I have lots of ideas and files for from-scratch ttRPGs. Warbrand has the most work done on it… but I’m actually closest to having a playable game with a different project, Wyverns & Warrens (or, WyvWar).

(Cover art by Eric Pommer. Cover graphics by Lj Stephens) 

This is specifically a *different* project than Warbrand, for a lot of reasons. Not the least of those is I hope to keep the core rules of WyvWar to 64 pages or less. But most importantly, WyvWar is my nostalgia-driven fantasy heartbreaker ttRPG design. Every choice I make for WyvWar is driven by the effort to recapture how it felt when I played Tunnels & Trolls solo adventures, or D&D games that use the original booklets, Basic, a Boxed set, Dragon articles, and stuff we graphed on from Boot Hill, Gamma World, Gangbusters, and anything else that seemed to use a d20 or percentile.

So, the goal here is not specifically to go for any given target audience, or to be amazingly innovative, or even necessary to create a commercially viable ttRPG (though I’m proceeding on the assumption I’ll make it a commercial product). Instead, I just want a game that suits exactly the mix of fast, easy, flexible, and able to surprise that I crave when I am in a nostalgic mood.

I have a short, quick preview of the concept of the game and my reasoning behind the core mechanic I have selected, over at my Patreon. It’s a very basic design document, a behind-the-scenes teaser of a thing I may or may not ever finish.

But I’d like to.

Right now that rules preview (and all Thursday blog posts) are Patreon-exclusive, because I need to grow my Patreon to keep spending time writing blog posts and other public content. However, once my Patreon funding level hits $1,000/month, I’ll go back to posting my Thursday posts free for all to see here, AND I’ll create and maintain an index page of all my PF2 articles for Patrons, so they can easily access all my online PF2 content!

Practical Pastiche: Fast Food

Practical Pastiche” is a series I expand on from time to time, offering drop-in names you can use in your home ttRPG campaigns to replace real-world organizations, places, groups, and anything else you might want to use in a fictional world without the baggage of using real-world elements.

FAST FOOD Whether you need some made-up restaurants to namedrop in your supers game, a character’s job at the local coffee house is a running joke, or you plan for a desperate battle for survival against zombie assassins at the burger joint, sometimes it’s nice to be able to use companies in your games without them being weighed down with any real-world corporate behavior.

Backgammon Pizza: A delivery-only pizza place (no dine-in options at 90% of their stores) that has fast-food American versions of pizzas, subs, pizza pockets, pasta, boneless wings, salads, personal hot cupcakes, and “Crazi Knots Garlic and Cheese Rolls.” Famous for their “Still Hot or All Free” campaign (which was launched when they could give every delivery driver a cheap handheld infrared thermometer), Backgammon Pizza is rarely anyone’s favorite choice, but it’s often no-one’s least favorite choice either.

Burger Ranch: A major worldwide burger-based, ranch-themed fast food company. Best known for the Rancher (a 1/3 lb. ranch-dressing cheeseburger), the Double Rancher, and, since 2002, the Tripple Rancher. Has a fairly standard fare of burgers, fried and grilled chicken sandwiches, fried fish sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and so on. Had a decades-long ad campaign that included the phrase “You’ll Enjoy Our Brand,” followed by a cattle branding iron searing the ‘BR’ logo into the side of a cup of soda.

Fuse-Asian: When several racist-themed Chinese and Japanese cuisine restaurants went out of business, the Fuse-Asian Corporation was created to buy them up and rebrand them as a chain of drive-through Americanized “fusion Asian” food. The menu is mostly Chinese-focused, with Japanese influences largely restricted to sushi.

Kno-Y Chicken: Apparently built entirely on the phrase “Know Why? Chicken Thigh!,” “KYC” is a popular drive-through and dine-in chicken restaurant that claims their secret to success is using chicken thighs where other places use breast meat. It focuses on fried chicken and chicken tenders, but branched out into baked chicken and wings when those because popular in the mainstream. Also famously have “burger nuggets,” tiny ground-beef-in-a-cheese-knot snacks sold in packs of 6, 10, and 20, which are generally thought of as stuffed micro-sliders and were launched in the 1990s under the famous “Hey, fair is fair!” ad campaign.

Menu-Inn: In the 1950s, every Motorin’ Motor-Inn had a 24 hour “Menu-Inn” restaurant. The Motorin’ brand went bankrupt in the early 1990s, but Menu-Inn has survived as a late-night sit-down restaurant, especially near universities and factories or mines with shifts covering all 24-hour. Its food is road-travel-themed, such as the Interstate Platter, Turnpike Combos, Rest Stop Drink Station, and (famously) “Regular,” “Leaded,” and “Unleaded” coffee.

Ringmaster’s: A circus-themed fast food chain famous for Circus Meal Deals, franchises, fries, ice cream machines that almost never work, and “Playring” in-store mini-playgrounds.

Pueblo de Tacos: A very Tex-Mex Americanized style of taco, but generally considered a significant step up from Taco Tavern.

Secret HQ Pizza and Pasta: Mostly a dine-in establishment, with limited levels of delivery available in various markets. “SHQ” started life in the late 1940s as a tiny mom-and-pop restaurant in a college town that had a real stone pizza oven, and two incredibly cheap options – the “Peanut Pocket” hot peanut-butter pizza-sandwich (jelly optional) and Peanut Pasta (essentially Pad Thai but with Italian noodles), which college kids loved. It’s since gone corporate, though never a franchise, and while most of its food is typical, there remains a “secret” menu (which is easily found online) that includes peanut butter as a topping option, and the Peanut Pocket and Peanut Pasta as things you can order.

Taco Tavern: Open “23 Hours A Day” (literally every store is closed from 4 to 5 am), Taco Tavern specializes in cheap tacos that supposedly can help prevent hangovers… but also famously may force a run to the restroom. Often make up new foods with weird pseudo-Mexican sounding names, like Enchaloopas or Torflandos. Also often offers custom flavors of Pepfül Soda and Cherry Bomm.

Tim Duncan’s Donuts: Considered the best coffee-and-donut place by its fans. Also serves a range of breakfast items, often 24 hours a day. No delivery offered by the stores, but food delivery services often make a big deal of being able to get you your Tim Duncan’s Fix.

Waffle Stop: A 24-hour breakfast-and-burgers eat-at-the bar holdover of the diner business plan, Waffle Stop is a big rough-and-ready, but also is prepared to pitch in for nearly any local or community disaster. A LOT of Waffle Stops are franchises owned by people who have an adjacent gas station and repair garage, which is always officially a different business.

Patreon Cafe: No, not a fictional restaurant. This is just a disguised pitch for you to support the creation of these blogs by joining my Patreon for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Now on Patreon: Conceptualizing Quirky Magic Items, Part 1 – Unusual Forms

My Day 23 entry of my #Dungeon23 Project has a list of ideas for quirky magic items to put in a creature’s loot pile for PCs to pick up and enjoy. I like making objects for PCs to use that aren’t just the standard options, and in my experience players enjoy them as well, as long as “quirky” doesn’t become an excuse for less effective, embarrassing, or too strongly themed in a way that doesn’t match the characters.

Over on my Patreon I go into my favorite trick for conceptualizing quirky items, and I’ll expand that series of articles with more tips and tricks as time goes on. My Tuesday posts are currently Patreon-exclusive as an intentional carrot to get more people to join my Patreon. Once its income levelhas risen to $1,500/month, I’ll both go back to posting Tuesday posts for free here on my blog as well as on my Patreon, and I’ll make and maintain some article index for my Patreons (the carrot to encourage Patrons to see if their friends want to join).

Practical Pastiche: Modern Soft Drinks

Practical Pastiche” is a series I expand on from time to time, offering drop-in names you can use in your home ttRPG campaigns to replace real-world organizations, places, groups, and anything else you might want to use in a fictional world without the baggage of using real-world elements.

SOFT DRINKS
From sodas to punches to energy drinks, sweet to sour, diet to diabetic, selling people ready-made things to drink is a 400 billion-dollar industry worldwide.

Apollo’s Coffee: Famously a ubiquitous coffee shop that sometimes is so dense that two can be on opposite corners of the same intersection. Very popular, and fairly pricey. Also sells ground coffee and chilled bottled coffee drinks.

Barkentea: Named after the Barkentine trading ships of the 1800s from which its business grew, Barkentea makes a dozen brands and flavors of ready-made tea, tea and juice drinks, lemonade, and fruit-flavored tea mixes. Their main slogan is “Set sail with Barkentea.”

Blue Bison: An energy drink popular with programmers, truckers, sailors, students, and anyone driven by late-stage capitalism to put being active above their own health. The main flavors are adrenaline and sugar. Uses the catchphrase “Take Life By The Horns”

Boltzz Cola: A soda famous for having tons of sugar (proudly cane sugar, not corn syrup) and multiple forms of caffeine. Claims it tastes like licking a battery. … It doesn’t really, but it is an intense flavor for cola.

Choco-Cola: The world’s most popular chocolate-flavor-infused cola drink. Cherry Choco-Colo, Diet Choco-Cola, Choco-Cola-Cafe (with coffee), and Choco-Cola-Free are its most popular sub-flavors. The Choco-Cola Company is one of the largest and most powerful worldwide corporations, though they do their best not to seem like it. Their two most famous ad campaigns where “Friendship? Chalk It Up To Choco!” and the Easter Toucan animation. Choco-Cola famously changed their formula to their “New World Soda” in the 1980s. It was a disaster.

Choco-Cola has Eleven Secret Formulas, for their varieties of Choco-Cola, which are legitimately unknown to anyone but a few people within the company, all sworn to secrecy, and according to urban legend, no one but a single random janitor who serves as a backstop should all the higher-ranking formula-holders be killed. The secret formulas are taken seriously because no one else who has tried to make a chocolate-cola product has ever had significant success.

Choco-Cola Brands: The Choco-Cola Corporation also owns Pixie (a lemon-lime soda, which comes in all the varieties Choco-Cola does, and yes, that includes Pixie-Cafe lemon-lime-coffee soda, which is only big in Chicago), Nutrition Water, Frutina (fruit soda flavors), Fresh Skweezed (fresh and concentrate juices), Mega-Ade (a sports drink) and Professor Spice (a knockoff of Ph.Delicious).

Crocovial: One of the original sports drinks. Has a lot of sports team endorsements. Barrels of it are often dumped on baseball coaches when their team wins a game. Owned by the Pepfül Soda Company (or “PepSoCo”).

Peakant: An uncarbonated fruit drink line, with Lime Peakant and Tangerine Peakant the most popular. Can be bought in powder form as well. famously drunk by the Aquanauts in the Deep Water Lab missions of the 1970s.

Pepfül Soda: The main competitor to Choco-Cola. Was cheaper during various recessions and depressions, which allowed it to gain a toehold worldwide where other alternate colas did not. Pepfül and Choco engaged in the Soda Siege in the 80s and 90s, which are the source of various conspiracy theories claiming people were really killed, or that it was a cover for a worldwide fight against shapeshifters, and a dozen other ridiculous things.

Pepfül Soda Brands: The Pepfül Soda Company (or “PepSoCo”) has a dozen other major soda brands, including Chery Bomm (a super-sweet, super-caffeinated beverage that’s neon red in color), Crocovial (see above), Oceanical (juices, and fruit-flavored teas and noncarbonated punches), and Axeman (energy drinks).

Ph.Delicious: An independent soda that’s not quite a cola, but is extremely popular. Began to franchise before Choco-Cola, in the late 1800s, Nearly every major beverage company has its own knock-off. While its ad campaigns are updated every few years, they almost always revolve around the phrase “Be smart, get your Ph.Delicious!”

Snapricot: A brand of ready-to-drink fruit-flavored teas. Has reimagined itself several times, and currently has flavors that mix a type of tea with a juice (English Breapple, Green Tangerine, and Chamomilelderberry are the most popular, with Chamomilelderberry poking fun at its long name by having it wrap around the bottles in a spiral). Currently uses the slogan “Brewed to BE The Best TEA.”

Whammo Water Works: They sell bottled water. They make it sound fancy, but it’s tap water.

The K-Force Files (Part 3)

I covered what the K-Force files are, and why I wrote them in Part 1, which covered Terminology, Locations, and Organizations in a kaiju-rich world. Part 2 presented some of the most important Kaiju within the setting.

Here in Part 3, I go over some of the hardware used, mostly by K-Force, to handle Kaiju threats.

HARDWARE

Gunslinger Gamma: Gunslinger Gamma is an enormous 300-foot tall mecha operated by K-Force. Sometimes referred to as a kaiju itself by the public, Gunslinger Gamma requires a 2-personc crew to operate and thus is categorized as a vehicle by K-Force.

As K-Force studied the properties of Kaiju and their K-Calls ability to alter how fundamental forces operated in a field around a kaiju, and acquired partial blueprints on the technologies used to create Mecha-Deltara, an experimental build program was initiated to attempt to emulate this effect using massive quantum generators. Because the generators were trying to match quantum field readings from specific kaiju, the vehicles housing them had to conform to roughly the shape of the kaiju from which those readings were taken.

In 2013, the program produced 6 K-Class Mecha, which were deployed in a rush to face kaiju threats including Tarankura’s attack on New York City. The Mecha faced 6 J-Class and K-Class threats in 6 months, and all but Gunslinger Gamma were destroyed in the process. In 2014, Gunslinger Gamma took on, and defeated, the Tier Kaiju Void God KLKQ, making it the only purely Earth-built device to ever defeat a tier 1 K-class threat in solo battle.

So far, all efforts to create a second Quantum Generator that can duplicate the field used by Gunslinger Gamma have failed, leaving it the only active and proven antikaiju mecha.

KDestroyers: K-Destroyers (or Kaiju Destroyers, or K-Ds), are K-Force ground vehicles designed specifically for dealing with J-Class and K-Class threats. While they are clearly derived from modern tanks and AFVs, K-Ds are purpose designed to engage giant monster threats. As a result they generally focus on overwhelming firepower and mobility. Because a direct attack from a K-class threat can destroy even the most heavily armored standard-technology military vehicle, K-Ds normally have just enough protection to prevent ricochets and rubble from taking them out. They also aren’t designed to oppose enemy infantry with antitank weapons.

Gen 1 K-Ds were essentially tank destroyers with some armor removed in favor of higher speeds. Gen 2 and 3 K-Ds were increasingly specialized vehicles, and the few designs of Gen 4 K-Ds often look nothing like modern AFVs.

(Art by Avasylenko)

M-Destroyers: M-Destroyers (or Maser-Armed Destroyers, or Mas-Ds) are Gen 4 K-D chassis equipped with powerful masers (Microwave Amplification by Stimulation Emission of Radiation, also sometimes called ‘Microwave Lasers). Masers are the most effective anti-Kaiju weapon using standard technology available to Earth. Mas-Ds are bigger, slower, and less armored than K-Destroyers, and are deployed as far away from K-Class threats as possible while remaining in effective maser range.

Mobile Armor Pods: MAPs are much smaller mecha, averaging 8-12 feet in height, used by K-Force primarily to allow spotters, observers, scouts, and researchers to get close to rampaging kaiju while remaining protected from debris and wreckage. They can be armed if a situation warrants it (such as if a swarm of juvenile Taranturas are overrunning an area), but normally primarily carry lifter arms, communications gear, scanning equipment, and scientific instruments.

Striker Ks: The Striker K airships are electromagnetic hover ships, and form K-Forces’ primary antikaiju fleet. They are designed as operate as small sea vessels do, but with the significant advantage of being airborne. They are roughly the size and power of modern navy destroyers and are often used as testbeds and delivery platforms for specific antikaiju devices.

Submersible X: K-Forces mobile field headquarters, Submersible X is an extremely advanced submarine aircraft carrier and missile carrier. It can operate at extreme depths underwater, and is able to transport Gunslinger Gamma. It carries the very first successful Quantum Generator K-Force ever possessed, though unlike those used in Gunslinger Gamma, Submarine X’s generator is repaired Externian technology salvaged from the ruins of Lemuria.

Submersible X has faced kaiju directly, and even defeated Gangcheora on multiple occasions.

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The K-Force Files (Part 2)

I covered what the K-Force files are, and why I wrote them in Part 1, which covered Terminology, Locations, and Organizations in a kaiju-rich world.

Here in Part 2, I go over some of the best-known kaiju in the world. This is far from a complete list of all kaiju who have ever appeared, just the best-known kaiju, along with a representative sample of lesser giant monsters.

KAIJU

Annihilah: A tier 1 kaiju, Annihilah appeared in 1995 and immediately sought out Tsarkyrkon. A crustacean-like kaiju, Annihilah was immune to Tsarkyrkon’s nuclear fire breath, and could stun the God of Kaiju with a Neuron Burn Beam. It fact, Annihilah was created by sea life that had been mutated by the Neuron Suppressor (used to drive off Tsarkyrkon on his first appearance) and exposed to Tsarkyrkon’s k-cell-infused blood. The mutated creatures had slowly sought each other out and merged, until at some point they gained sentience, and sought to finish the task of killing the god of kaiju, which was to be the first step in destroying all life. Annihilah was destroyed by Tsarkyrkon, with K-Force’s aid in weakening the hybrid Neural-Suppressor-created kaiju.

Arcotopeltus: A Tier 2 kaiju, Arcotopeltus is a heavily-armored quadrupedal reptilian kaiju that can create subsonic fields which damage anything that touches it, and can turn ground and earth to quicksand allowing it to swim through the ground as if it was water. Arcotopeltus was the first kaiju to fight Tsarkyrkon, in 1955 and, upon being defeated, has only operated to support the God of Kaiju.

Deltara: A heavily armored burrowing quadrupedal kaiju, Deltara made a series of appearances in 1965, when it arrived to oppose XJPT (usually pronounced CHI-jar-pit), one of the three the so-called Void Gods which it is generally accepted to have been sent to Earth by an as-yet unknown alien intelligence (which were the Externians), likely with hostile intent. Deltara burst from the ground before XJPT reached Tokyo (the most populated city in the world at the time). Using an as-yet-not-understood “force beam” which allowed Deltara to both swim through bedrock as if it was liquid and slice through nearly any material at range, Deltara drove off XJPT, though not without suffering extensive wounds. (The other two Void Gods were driven off, but not destroyed, by Tsarkyrkon and Vespira).

The two would clash five more times, at the edge of five major cities worldwide. At each battle, prepubescent children are reported to have felt strong compunction to approach the site, and anecdotal reports claim Deltara grew stronger as more children watched it fight. However, children within a mile or so of such battles began to show signs of psychic abilities, which have since been attributed to their exposure to the k-cells in both Deltara and XJPT. Even today, the majority of confirmed psychics are, or can trace their lineage back to, adolescent witnesses of the 1965 Deltara/XJPT conflicts.

The final battle between the two took place outside Mumbai. Forewarned by children chanting Deltara’s name for hours, most parents fled the city to ensure their children would be nowhere near such a conflict. Deltara destroyed XJPT (though the Void God may have since been reincarnated), but died in the process. Deltara was never studied while living, and his remains were claimed by the General Oil Company. Because of his behavior during the Void Gods crisis, and cave paintings that bare some resemblance to him, many kaijologists believe Deltara was a Guardian Spirit, and possibly an extremely old one.

Gangcheora: Gangcheora is a wingless, flying serpentlike kaiju that can control storms and tides, and breathe a ray that advanced the age of whatever it hits. Apparently once a Guardian Spirit of a civilization destroyed 10,000 years ago by the Externians dwelling in the ruins of Atlantis, it awoke in 1964, and immediately began attacking any signs of advanced technology. The K-Force vehicle Submarine X was rushed into service to seek and defeat Gangcheora, and wounded it badly enough the kaiju was thought dead as it fell into the Mariana Trench. However, Gangcheora survived, and has fought K-Force several times since then.

Ghengis Kong: Ghengis Kong is an oddity amongst kaiju. The massive primatelike kaiju is clearly from a long line of the same species that lived on Fang Island — a rarity among kaiju. He is resistant to known forms of disease and poison and can regenerate damage well, and his species were clearly the alpha predators of Fang Island, but is the last of his kind with no sign of what killed off his kin. All objective analyses of him place him as a Tier 3, or at absolute best a tier 2 kaiju, but he has defeated numerous tier 1 kaiju and even fought Tsarkyrkon: God of Kaiju to a standstill. He was late to the global scene of kaiju, but was secretly encountered and captured by General Oil Company in 1933. He mostly ignores people, including residents of his island, but they consider him their legal ruler.

Ghengis Kong is 110 feet tall, and though his hide is among the least armored of any true kaiju (about on par with tough J-class creatures) he can apparently use sheer determination to remain focused and active even after taking horrific damage. His bite is his most damaging attack, but he is far more likely to use his fists or grapple foes. If he stays in one place long enough, thunderstorms gather around him, and seem to ignore him and focus wind, hail, and lightning at his foes. His greatest asset appears to be his intellect, as he is clearly at least as smart as a typical human (and possibly much smarter), and has a true tactical genius.

Although he doesn’t go on rampages unless attacked or the world is in serious danger, he recognizes the General Oil Company logo, and attacks it on sight, which GOC claims is random brutality and actually proves he lacks human-level intelligence.

Kravaithan: One or more tier 3 kaiju, Kravaithans are giant squidlike kaiju with acidic ink sprays and poisonous mucus generation. Fast in water but very slow on land, they regenerate extremely quickly, so it is unclear if the dozen that have been seen over the decades are different members of the same species, or if a cell or two survives each time it is destroyed and eventually grow back to its full 200-foot length.

Kulicidara: Essentially the anti-Vespira, Kulicidara is a tier 1 kaiju that looks like a massively over-armored and spiked mosquito. It was created in 1992 by GOC using Externian tech and a captured Vespira regeneration egg to make a kaiju able to prevent Vespira from interfering with their mining and drilling operations. Kulicidara can infect other kaiju with its long injector spike, then control them. It took control of Tsarkyrkon, and began to use the God of Kaiju to destroy anything not owned by GOC, but Vespira broke the control and helped the greatly weakened Tsarkyrkon destroy Kulicidara, though the effort killed her.

Larval forms of Kulicidara have been created several times since then, and have been dealt with by K-Force and/or Mega-Z before growing to full size.

Mecha-Deltara: After the death of Deltara, the General Oil Company (who ran numerous oil rigs near the scene of the battle) claimed the body. They refused all efforts by governments to confiscate or even see it. While neither the decision-making process nor the actual construction method used are known, between their acquisition in 1965 and one of Tsarkyrkon: God of Kaiju’s attacks on new oil wells drilled in the arctic in 1974, GOC turned the dead kaiju into a massive k-class robot, using the nearly indestructible bones of the kaiju as a frame, reinforcing its carapace for a layered armor exterior, and drawing power from the dead kaiju’s revived nervous system and k-cell infused organs to create a plasma beam. This was further augmented by missiles and canons tipped with bacteria that had been found able to consume k-cells, so they could (at least in theory) both penetrate another kaiju’s hide, and weaken its regeneration. Further, the Mecha-Deltara was piloted by a small crew of young pilots who had gained psychic abilities after observing Deltara in battle in 1965.

Mecha-Deltara was used by GOC in an attempt to defeat Tsarkyrkon. Though the Mecha-Deltara badly injured Tsarkyrkon, in the end the pilots were a weak link and even though no attack ever reached their control chamber, the mecha-kaiju itself being constantly smashed about eventually gave them concussions, allowing Tsarkyrkon to outmaneuver it. The failed mecha was reclaimed by GOC, repaired, and a new set of pilots trained to use stimulants to retain focus regardless of the concussive force they suffered. A second battle between Mecha-Deltara and Tsarkyrkon occurred in 1975, but this time the pilots’ hearts exploded after they insisted on using more and more stimulants in an effort to win.

Although GOC claimed the Mecha-Deltara was destroyed, redesigned and upgraded models have attacks Tsarkyrkon in 1993, 2002, 2003, and 2022. It has often come close to defeating Tsarkyrkon, but never done so.

Its current whereabouts are unknown, and GOC claims it was destroyed.

Mega-X: The true nature and origin of Mega-X are not common knowledge, though K-Force and most world intelligence agencies are aware. Mega X first appeared in 1966 and appeared to be an artificially intelligent, size-shifting robot, similar to the true robot Tiger Turbo. But in fact, Mega-X is a title granted to one Earthling at a time, who gains the power to transform into an armored “Mega-X” form, and to grow up to 300 feet tall. This title is granted by the Megarians, who granted it to a young man who had bravely helped people flee from one of the fights between Deltara and XJPT a year earlier, in 1965. Aware that the Void Gods had been sent by the alien Externians to weaken Earth prior to an invasion, and that one of Earth’s mightiest kaiju, Deltara, had died in trying to defeat it, the Megarians assigned a Mega-X guardianship over Earth, to help it defend itself against further Extarian kaiju attacks. Each time the holder of the Mega-X title dies or chooses to retire, the Megarians grant the Mega-X title to another worthy human. There have been five Mega-X holders since 1966, two of which are now dead, and two retired. One of the retired Mega-X guardians, Professor Hiroko Sahara, is now the senior civilian kaijologist at K-Force.

The Mega-X form takes energy from the human using it, and the bigger the Mega-X form, the faster it uses energy. Larger forms also require a warmup time in Mega-X form to assume, so Mega-X often appears on a scene, tries to help as much as he can in human-sized armored form, then grows to great size only when absolutely necessary, and maintains it for as little time as possible. Mega-X is heavily armored but also very fast and nimble, gains advanced combat training, can fly, and project power beams from his eyes.

Mega-Z: Mega-Z is typically just seen as a female form of Mega-X. In fact Mega-Z is the holder of a second Megarian guardianship (see Mega-X), who happens to be female and has been the only holder to date. Megarians granted the Mega-Z Guardianship in 2001, when a rogue Megarian decided to begin converting various Terran kaiju into Guardian Spirits, but had to destroy Tsarkyrkon: God of Kaiju to do so as they were all attuned to his dominance through GQS. Because a Megarian trying to destroy even one of Earth’s kaiju was a violation of Megarian law, the Megarians responded by granting Earth another Guardianship.

Mega-Z is much, more more energy efficient in her Mega-Z form than Mega-X, but otherwise has all his abilities, just at a lower power level. This makes her less effective in a short battle where Mega-X can unleash his more powerful abilities to win quick victory. But while Mega-X can retain his enlarged form for an hour at the most, Mega-Z can operate at full scale for days if she wishes to do so. The current Mega-Z is also far more experienced than the current Mega-X.

Petagan: Petagan is a tier 1 Externian cyborg kaiju, used by the aliens as one of their primary weapons of war. It can fly, has a graser beam eye ray, and has cybernetic claws and vibro-spikes. Petagan also appears to actually be a series of extremely similar kaiju, and on at least one occasion a dozen Petagans operated at once under the command of a larger, more powerful “Lord Petagan.”

Scythella, the Preying Mantis: The first Scythella was released from an antarctic iceberg in 1957, and rampaged up through North and Central America until it was finally destroyed in a pitched battle in Washington D.C. It is often referred to as a “weak” tier 3 kaiju as it can be affected by conventional weaponry, though its speed and agility makes it extremely difficult to hit, and it requires bunker-buster weapons to wound it at all. Additional Scythella kaiju were encounter in 1967, 1969, 1972, 2004, and 2019, and each time killed by another kaiju or by massive assaults by combined military forces. These are believed to have hatched from eggs on Hive Island.

Scythella can fly at just above the speed of sound, create deafening buzzing sounds, and has praying mantis-style claws capable of crushing buildings and the limbs of other kaiju.

Tarankura: Tarankura first appeared in 1955 in Arizona, and created mass devastation before being destroyed by a US Air Force Strike. The origin of that Tarankura is unknown. A second appeared in New Mexico in 1958, with similar results. In fact, Tarankura appears to be the *most* common species of kaiju. In addition to dozens of unconfirmed reports from various Pacific island encounters (many on the Kaiju Islands), additional appearances occurred in Colorado (1960), Nevada (1963 and 1968), Wisconsin (1975), Los Angeles (2000), New Guinea (2004), Los Angeles (again) and New York City (2013), Italy (2014), and the Taklimakan Desert (2021). A seafaring Tarankura was encountered by a fishing trawler in 2020, though details of the encounter are sketchy. In 2002, a massive wave of hundreds of Tarankura appeared in Arizona, ranging in size from 200-lbs to a single specimen weighing in at 8,000 metric tons. It is the largest number of Tarankura known in a single incident.

Tarankura all have k-cells, even those just born and found at the roughly 200-lb. size. Only those that exceed 1 metric ton appear to gain GQS, subseismic movement, and regeneration. All are extremely poisonous, prodigious jumpers, and able to spin weblines and traps with silk thread significantly strong than steel.

Teralon: A Tier 1 kaiju, Teralon was the last militarized kaiju possessed by a splinter Externian group living in the ruins of Atlantis. An insectile creature it could fly, has cyborg drill claws, and a biomass grenade launcher and mine dropper. It was destroyed by Tiger Turbo and Tsarkyrkon the God of Kaiju, but rumors persist of a Teralon-like creature being spotted in states of damage by various submarines and ships.

Tiger Turbo: Although neither biological nor naturally occurring, the size-changing AI robot known as Tiger Turbo is generally classified as a kaiju rather than hardware. The robot was originally constructed in 1973 as a prototype a remote-controlled humanoid analog to use in situations too dangerous for humans, such as disaster search-and-rescue. When the Externian splinter group living n the sunken ruins of Atlantis unleashed Teralon (and the standard Externians took the opportunity to also attack Earth with Petagan), Tiger Turbo’s creator was trapped in a wrecked building Petagon crashed into. Tiger Turbo was damaged, and its creator used pieces of Petagan to repair him, hoping to rescue himself and others trapped in the building.

The Exterian technology from Petagan was successfully grafted to the Earth robot, and caused it to gain sapience and k-cell powers, including the ability to fly and change size. Tiger Turbo assisted Tsarkyrkon in defeating Petagan and Teralon. Tiger Turbo has since continued to work as an independent global search-and-rescue force, but will also oppose rampaging kaiju if they threaten population centers. Tiger Turbo has an arms-length cooperative agreement with K-Force.

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

Tsarkyrkon: The “God of Kaiju,” Tsarkyrkon was the first kaiju to make a major appearance in the modern era, attacking Tokyo for unknown reasons in 1954. He was driven off with a weapon of desperation, the Neural Suppressor, which kills neurons directly at a quantum level without having to propagate through any physical medium. Thousands of humans were killed by the Neural Suppressor’s collateral effects, and its creator destroyed it and all notes regarding it (or so he thought), believing Tsarkyrkon to be the only existing kaiju, and thinking him dead.

The God of Kaiju has remained active in the years since. He sometimes rampages, apparently driven by a sense of imbalance detected through his GQS or in response by attacks against him by various force, but also often moves to corral other rampaging kaiju, and seeks out and defeats alien kaiju (causing him to be seen as a major hindrance by the alien Externians). He otherwise spends most of his time on Omega Island.

Tsarkyrkon is a roughly 350-foot-tall, reptilian, bipedal, spiked, nuclear-fire-breathing kaiju with fangs, claws, and a long powerful tail. officially a Tier 1 kaiju, he is sometimes referred to as “Tier Omega,” classifying him as the most powerful of all kaiju.

Vragon: Vragon is a tier 2 kaiju, that essentially appears to be a quadrupedal version of Tsarkyrkon. He appeared in 1958, during a time Tsarkyrkon was thought dead (and was mistaken for some kind of mutated the God of Kaiju for a time), and attacked New York City. He nearly reached the UN Building, but was driven back through massive combined military efforts, including the use of Spine Missiles, literally tipped with bits of kaiju gathered off previous giant monster battlefields. His appearance was instrumental in the formation of K-Force as a worldwide organization.

Vespira: A winged, insectile kaiju, Vespira is the last Guardian Spirit kaiju, and through her reincarnation process the oldest living k-class creature. She is worshiped by a small but dedicated worldwide faith that claims to date back to before the evolution of modern man, and does seem to avoid harming her worshipers. Some Vespirians, mostly women, do seem to have psychic abilities (which they focus through song) that allow them to communicate with the kaiju, and occasionally even call to her. The most common theory among kaijologiests is that these “chorists” are from lines that have been in close contact with Vespira or her reincarnation hives to be infected and mutated through exposure to her K-cells, though there is no proof of this, and not even M.I.K.I. has managed to get any Vespirians to agree to be studied.

Vespira does not go on rampages unless provoked, and historically all such provocations have involved k-class creatures threatening her hive grounds (of which she has several hidden throughout the world), or groups of Vespirians being threatened. However, she also occasionally appears to oppose particularly destructive kaiju, even working with other k-class creatures when doing so. Numerous well known kaiju appear deferential to Vespira, and it is unknown if this is a sign of sapience, or a result of her being favored by those kaiju’s GQS. Even the mega-k-class Tsarkyrkon: God of Kaiju makes no effort at dominance displays toward Vespira and she has aided him against major foes more than she has any other kaiju, though she has also on a few occasions opposed him. Tsarkyrkon has even killed her once, though in doing so he was so weakened he retreated to enter a hibernation stage, and neither of them seem to keep a grudge about it.

In addition to the super-gigafauna size, strength, resilience, and baseline regeneration of all kaiju, Vespira possesses the ability to fly at near-sonic speeds, an area sonic scream (which she can reinforce with the buzzing of her wings if she is braced on the ground), razor-edged wings (which she can use to strafe with when flying, or as chopping weapons if in melee), and molecular acid sting. The sting is among the most devastating of attacks, perhaps more damaging even than Tsarkyrkon’s Nuclear Fire Breath, though her sting is a single target melee attack which takes hours to recharge and, if she is weakened, the strain of its use can kill her.

However, as long as she has at least one reincarnation hive, she eventually returns in either a larva or fully-grown form.

The Void Gods: The Externians sometimes use three kaiju known as the Void Gods to create chaos and distraction while they carry out other operations. Unlike Petagan and Teralon, the Externians cannot control or command the Void Gods, only place them in a state of hibernation through unknown (and imperfect) means, and let them lose someplace. They have only unleashed all three Void Gods once, in 1965, when it took the kaiju Deltara, Tsarkyrkon, and Vespira to stop them, and Deltara died in the series of conflicts.

The Void Gods are all Tier 1 kaiju. They are DTZR (a shapechanging, plantlike kaiju with control of air and earth), KLKQ (a flying, batlike kaiju with control over sound and fire), and XJPT (a flying, reptillian kaiju with control over gravity and lightning).

HARDWARE

I’d meant to include notes on armor pods, Gunslinger Gamma, k-destroyers, m-destroyers, mobile armor pods, Striker-Ks, and Submersible X… but I ran out of time. I’ll add them in Part Three, out either Wednesday or sometime next week.

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Now on Patreon: First Look at The Warbrand RPG

(This article is not covered by the OGL)

I suspect it shocks no one to know I have been working on my own core RPG… for decades. Several of them, actually.

Many turned into supplements for other games. Some are currently at design dead ends. A lot are cold, dusty files at the very back of my hard drive that haven’t seen the light of day for years. But some I have kept tinkering on, and keep getting closer and closer to being something I could announce and publish.

One of the closest at the moment is Warbrand, which I am desperately trying to make exactly my preferred magical mix of fast, flexible, simple, elegant, and customizable. You know… a unicorn. With miniatures.

It’s still not ready for its big reveal. But, for reasons that may seem obvious, given it’s not a direct descendent of anyone RPG (or such an RPG’s system resource document, for example), I’ve been thinking about it a LOT, recently.

So, I have a short, quick preview of just a few of the rule elements I’m working on in the game up at my Patreon. It isn’t a design document, but instead a preview of some elements of a game I’m working on, a behind-the-scenes teaser of a thing I may or may not ever finish.

But I’d like to.

Right now that rules preview (and all Thursday blog posts) are Patreon-exclusive, because I need to grow my Patreon to keep spending time writing blog posts and other public content. However, once my Patreon funding level hits $1,000/month, I’ll go back to posting my Thursday posts free for all to see here, AND I’ll create and maintain an index page of all my PF2 articles for Patrons, so they can easily access all my online PF2 content!

(Working cover. Cover art by lobard)

#Dungeon23 Project – How Did The Tomb Lands Come To Be?

My #Dungeon23 Project is “Into the Tomb Lands,” which presupposed a massive underground realm with its own cities and kingdoms, all tied to “the dead, the dying, memorials to the lost, guardians of the grave, eaters of dead things, mummers, mourners, funerary attendants, and perhaps even the undead.”

It further says “There are 1,000 stories about how the Tomb Lands came to be, and most are mutually exclusive. All that is agreed upon is that they are vast, cold, filled with burial offerings and gifts for the fallen… and sealed off from mortal man forever.”

Well, clearly not forever, since they’re open now. But, what ARE some of those stories about how the Tomb Lands came to be?

Here are a few. I’ll never make one officially right or wrong, so you can adapt any (or none) of these as the “truth” if you opt to run games in the Tomb Lands.

Tomb Land Origin Stories

1. When the gods were young, they thought themselves omnipotent, eternal, enduraing forever. Mortal than immoortal, they thought themselves so fundamental a part of the universe that should one of them ever cease to be, the universe would unravel.

But they were wrong, and a lost eon ago, the first god died.

So stricken were all other divinities that they stopped in all actions for an indescribable moment, and came together. Not in peace, but in truce to ensure the death of a God was not the beginning of the end of all things. And, as part of that truce, the Gods made a place apart from all the rest of the universe. A Tomb Land, at the bottom of which lay the final grave of the First Fallen God.

And like any place created purely for a single god’s use, that land naturally became a part of that god’s will. But the First Fallen God had no will, as it was truly and permanently dead. And thus, the divine power that shaped the Tomb Lands had nothing but the trappings of the grave and burial upon which to build an entire domain.

No god rules the Tomb Lands, and since it is an extension of a dead god’s own resting place, no God ever can.

2. The first undead was not a lich, or a vampire, or wight. It was a revenant, the spirt of a dragon wrongfully slain, returned to half-life through the power of its wrath. As it unleashed its vengeance, it’s dread power created lesser undead, things horrifically powerful by the standard of modern mortals, but a mere shadow (in some cases literally) of the Dracul, the Dragon Half-Returned. And when Dracul’s vengeance was fulfilled, that first undead settled itself at the bottom of the world and wove a Tomb that none could ever penetrate. for each lair of his final resting place was empowered to built more Tombs on top of them, and those new tombs were also so empowered, each new lair able to create its own protective margin of additional graves, on and on, forever.

3. All concepts are represented by spirits, from genus locii that are spirits of the place to muses that are spirits of art to the elder beasts that are spirits of each kith of living thing. Even Death itself has a spirit, an eternal representative of the concept of dying separate from any necromancer or angel. And the spirit of Death must, to fully embrace the nature of itself, be able to die.

Thus came to be the Strange Eons, known as the Tomb Lands, where the spirit of Death goes to die, coloring the nature of every inch of its endless tomb.

4. The Ureld was the first city, the first kingdom, and the first empire. So great was it power that the Last Emperor of Ureld dared to claim to be able to build his own Heaven and Hell, places so great his command over them would make him a god, and his people angels and devils.

And perhaps he could have. But his efforts were a violations of the natural laws, and the Principles of Heaven and Hell combined to destroy his mortal duplicates of their home before it was complete. Archangels and Archedevils joined forces to turn Ureld upside-down, burying that first civilization forever, and turning its aritficial heaven and hell into very-mortal kingdoms of death.

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Practical Pastiche: Modern News Organizations

“Practical pastiche” is a new series I’ll be expanding from time to time, offering drop-in names you can use in your home ttRPG campaigns to replace real-world organizations, places, groups, and anything else you might want to use in a fictional world without the baggage of using real-world elements.

MODERN NEWS ORGANIZATIONS
Whoever controls the news has massive influence over public opinion and understanding of current events. The news has always been one way the rich and powerful controlled the narrative of the world, but in the modern era the willingness to place dogma over truth. Some blame the creation of 24-hour news networks, others the move to make money off internet news through ads (which encourages clickbait titles and engagement-at-any-cost editorial decisions), while others feel the fix has always been in and modern awareness of it is an inevitable result of greater access to information.
While real-world new organizations served as inspiration for some of these entirely-fictional sites, these are presented not as efforts to accurately characterize any actual business or journalistic endeavor, but to offer a range of fictional news media that cover a narratively useful range of options. Whether you need someone on FAQS News to constantly spin everything a superhero does to make them seem villainous, an intrepid ANZIS reporter to give constant updates of a local war, or have monster hunters discover a surprising amount of fiction covered by Looky-Loo sites has real supernatural information, these organizations can act as background or major plot points for any modern ttRPG setting.

(Art by Alex White)

ANZIS: “Australia/New Zealand Information Services,” a government funded, theoretically-independent worldwide news service that’s been in place since WWI. Has 24 radio news feeds and web information, a wire service local news agencies often subscribe to for access to international news stories, a reputation for asking hard questions, and though underfunded its funding is not dependent on advertising or sponsors to pay the bills.

Broadcaste: The largest news organization in the world, though a typical person may only be aware they sell internet and cable television packages. But they are also the owners of NBS (National Broadcast Service), NBS News, MSNBS News, CNBS, and Cloud One news channels and services. Some of their channels have a firmly liberal bent, while others sew more conservative, suggesting those biases are intentional and cynical efforts to attract all possible markets.

The Boston Lantern: One of the last Great Newspapers, though most people read it through online subscriptions. Still operates out of the Lantern Building, built in 1919, though they now occupy less than 1/10th of the floors, and others are rented out as office or storage space or vacant.

FAQS News: “Frequently Asked Questions News Networks,” the mouthpiece of a conservative billionaire, FAQS is famous both of often reporting conspiracy questions while claiming they are “just asking questions,” and for being classified as entertainment rather than journalism in some countries.

GNN: “Global News Network,” one of the earlier 24-hour, worldwide cable news networks. Still among the most respected, though extremists often call it “fake news” when they don’t like what it has to say.

Looky-Loo: A media company that runs dozens of specialized topical news websites, such as 1138 (Fantasy and Scifi entertainment news, including comics, movies, novels, ttRPGs, and television), Clutch (racing and vehicle news), Lilith’s Pen (women’s issues), Silver Scream (horror stories, mostly movies & TV), Staydium (sports-news), Smackhead (stories of people being stupid and the oft-humorous consequences of their actions), and Vertical Slice (video game news). The quality of both journalism and writing varies wildly, but the people covering the topics are usually also true fans of the things they report on.

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