Category Archives: Starfinder Development

Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 8, part 1)

I got a bit behind on posting these due to the holidays, but here’s the after-action report for Session Seven of the Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign. The Knight Rangers have headed out in their converted Martian Excavating Machine, now known as The Armadillo, to the Montana city of Hellgate as part of their quest to find and defeat Professor Barkane Adrameliche, who has become the darkling Lord, the Venom King.

Along the way, they topped in on the family of the ogre ranch-hand and ally Bo Hoss, and discovered the Hoss clan was being forced to labor for a group of Vrock cultists.

This entry is adapted from the notes of my friend Carl, a player in the game, and told from his point of view. My wife, Lj, was unable to play this session. As a result her character, the fenrin operative bounty hunter, was caught up by a twister while flying ahead to scout using DaVinci Wings. Sawyer managed to assure the other Knight Rangers that she’s catch up with them after she landed (and since Lj wanted us to go ahead and play without her, we hand-waved any concern the characters might normally have had over losing a member for a few days).

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.
Session Four here.
Session Five here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Six here.
Session Seven here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

May 7, 1891

Travel past Idaho Falls, turning west.

May 8, 1891

The Knight Rangers pass many signs, pointing back to Idaho Falls, which appears to have been called Eagle Rock until recently. Numerous families in wagons are headed East toward Idaho Falls, evacuating the area further west.

Reach Root Hog, Idaho (will someday become Arco). It shows signs of extensive  new construction, Edison and Tesla-based engineering, and numerous Martian tech survey teams

The nearby “Craters of the Moon” was a major Martian landing location, and kind of an initial base for them. When Martians were getting sick at the end of the War of the Worlds, this was a place they fell back too. The town is “Martian wreckage boom town.”

Recently the Army Corps of Engineers has opened up Craters of the Moon battle site to public exploration. The Corp found a lot of stuff, but the mass of public can find more, and even a simple Martian “screw” is worth 2 credits.

As the Knight rangers arrive in the Armadillo, a bunch of people with newstypes (Newspapers printed locally having been received over the Babbage-Bel Grid) approach us and ask us for signatures.

(The Armadillo, the Knight Rangers’ mobile base of operation they converted from a Martian Embanking Machine. Art by Jacob Blackmon)

Headline in the “Lake Hudson Dispatch” reads:  Knight Rangers Threaten Town of Texburg. The coverage is all negative and wrong, along with a negative artists rendition

Headline in the “Gotham Times” reads: The Really Wild West: Martians, Mercenaries, and Magic!, and only mentions the KR in passing

Headline in the “Washington’s Bugle Weekly ” reads: The New Wild: Heroes Arise to Meet Unimagined Threats, and is accompanied by a fairly accurate artists rendition, although the female centaur paladin is depicted as being 12 feet tall. The article is written by “April Raynes,” and it mentions two other groups, the “Swordslingers” and the “Blud-Hexen Bunch”

After about hour, 12 men with rifles who have us artilleryman’s badges and red strip trousers show up. They are led by Sergeant Levy Cooper, a gruff man with a big bushy mustache and beard. He is currently in charge of Martian issues in Root Hog. Wants to see our Martian papers, and to have one of his people go over the Armadillo to make sure its not leaking or going to exploding. We agree.

Locals had more encounters with the “bug gum” and takes some affidavits from us about our experiences with it (the Jerusalem bugs and walking meat).

The engineer mentions “orange goo”  from some Martian tech that makes bugs grow big. Sergeant mentions Tesla was here first, indicates the least constructed building, “they had a really nice headquarters.”

He gives us a whistle that has a specific frequency that his fenrin employees can hear, they use it for emergencies.

They leave a corporal to keep an eye on us. Sergeant cooper says ” people don’t do what is expected, they do what is inspected.”

The closest crossing the Armadillo can take is a bridge which currently has so much traffic, we have to make an “appointment” to cross the bridge with the bridge officer.

In town, the centaur paladin goes for a hot shower, can’t find a shower place big enough, but a place that normally does degreaser for salvaged Martian tech, allows her to wash there. She encounters a large, 6″ wasp and pops it with a towel. It explodes into a green goo that is the same color as the Venom King’s various poisons.

The roboticist mechanic does some gambling, and looses to a professional gambler, “Slyton Seeves” , his friends call him “Sly.” They chat. He seems polite and proper. He wants to buy her (custom built) spark pistol for a lead lined box with a glowing blue dodecahedron crystal, She recognizes it as technological, but doesn’t know what it is. She does identify it as a part of a Martian interplanetary communicator. She makes the trade (and later builds herself a new spark pistol).

The human soldier guards the Armadillo while others are in town. He sees a woman walking about unnoticed on other people’s camps. No one else seems to see her. She then kisses a guy who is wraked with coughs, and that guy dies.

She approaches the Armadillo, and the soldier makes it obvious he can see her. She approaches, and they talk. She is Macha Morriga, basically a psychopomp. They exchange information, she tells him darklings rewrite reality. About 1,000 one got loose in South America, and destroyed an entire empire. She leaves, peacefully.

The cartographamancer half-orc was contact by agent of Tex Tanner. Tanner wanted to hire the Cartographamancer away from the Knight Rangers on a long-term contract, but was turned down. Tex Tanner is clearly paying agents throughout the West to keep track of the Knight Rangers.

(End Part One)

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For Starfinder: Jet Jutsu

The idea of developing a fighting style specifically designed to benefit a jetpack or other movement-boosting device is certainly not a new one, but it’s not something I have seen apply to the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. While this might grow to be a whole series of fighting techniques for soldiers to operative specializations, for the moment I’m just starting with a couple of combat feats.

(Art by matiasdelcarmine)

For the following options, “jetpack” applies to any armor upgrade or technological, hybrid, or magic item that gives you a flight speed, or gives you a bonus to Athletics checks made to jump (including items that increase your land speed enough that the increased speed gives you a bonus to Athletics checks to jump). “Using” the jetpack means being able to activate it and expending any battery power, use duration, fuel, or similar consumable required to gain the flight or bonus to Athletics checks to jump. You don’t actually need to take an action to do this, it is part of whatever action is required in the Jet Justsu option.

Jet Back (Combat)
Benefit: When you are attacked by a foe you observing (see States of Awareness), as a purely defensive reaction you can use your jetpack to dodge out of the way. You can move up to half your land or fly speed, and gain a +4 circumstance bonus to your AC against that one attack, and to any Reflex save required by the attack. On your next turn, you must take a Move action to recover as your first action. If you are prevented from doing this (such as if you are stunned), you fall prone. You are also off-target until the end of your next round.

Jet Punch (Combat)
Benefit: You can use your jetpack as part of a charge. You do not take a -2 penalty to your attack roll as with a normal charge, but your penalty to AC increases by -2 (normally to -4 AC). You add half the item level of your jetpack, to a maximum of half your ranks in Piloting, to your damage on a a successful attack.

You may also want to take Jet Charge, Mobility, Sky Jockey, and Spring Attack as part of your Jet Justsu techniques.

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Koufrawraiths – A simple d20 monster template

This is designed as a simple template for monsters in a wide range of d20 games. It has a horror/mystery theme, and the GM should consider its use carefully. Certainly it’s going to be as dangerous as a creature 1 level or CR higher, and if PCs do not yet know how to deal with it, it may be much more dangerous. On the other hand, a group could walk right past one and never know it, so it needs to be used in an intentional way with forethought, rather than as a random encounter.

Koufrawraith

(Sleepless art by likozor)

A koufrawraith is a creature that exists in the dim fog between the waking world and the Plane of Dreams. They cannot be encountered by anyone fully in either realm, but do cross into any other reality where creatures able to sleep exist. Despite the name koufrawraiths are not necessarily undead, though undead koufrawraiths do exist. Many are hags, fey, monstrous beasts,and rarer examples exist as constructs, dragons, and oozes.

A koufrawraith’s existence can only be experienced by those who are fatigued or exhausted, but conscious. For any other creature, they cannot be perceived or effected, and the koufrawraith similarly cannot directly effect those who are ineligible to perceive it. It does perceive waking and sleeping creatures, but no action it takes (including things like casting spells that leave lasting effects, such as a wall of stone) can be perceived by, effect, or be effected by such creatures. Secondary effects can be–if a koufrawraith damages an exhausted person, the damage is visible and can be healed, but there is no evidence of how it was caused. Any effort to identify a koufrawriath from secondary observation or description suffers a -10 penalty.

Also known as sleepgaunts, koufrawraiths often prey upon lone insomniacs and those suffering great loss or toil. If feeds on the suffering of the tired, and prefers to hurt and frighten its food source, rather than kill them.

The ancient order of the Wearied Guard once drove koufrawraiths to near extinction, but once they were no longer a common threat, societies stopped supporting, or even believing, those who claimed their crucial work had to be done in the still of night, while bleary-eyed and staggering from fatigue.

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Strategy Boosts for the Starfinder Soldier (Pt. 3)

We continue looking at strategy boosts, an alternate class feature for the soldier. You can take a strategy boost in place of a bonus combat feat, as long as you meet the strategy boost’s minimum soldier level.

Soldier 6
A soldier must be at least 6th level to select these strategy boosts.

(Art by Camile)

Hold the Line! (Ex): You expend 1 Resolve Point as part of any other standard, move, or full action to inspire your allies to hold their ground against enemy advanced. Allies within 60 feet gain a +4 AC bonus against combat maneuvers that change their position (such as bull rush and reposition) and special attacks that move them (including swallow whole). If a special attack has an effect other than to move a target, the non-movement portion occurs if the attack hits the ally’s normal AC, but the movement portion only occurs if the attack hits the AC with the +4 bonus. These bonuses last until an ally is moved by an attack, or 10 minutes pass. This is a sense-dependent, language-dependent ability.

MEDIC! (Ex): When you allies are wounded, you can inspire those able to patch them up to move faster and do better. As a reaction when an ally takes damage, or as a swift action, you can expend 1 Resolve Point to select one damaged ally and call for a medic. For 2 rounds, any creature within 60 feet can make a Medicine check on the selected ally more quickly. Checks that normally take 10 minutes can be performed as a full action. Those that take 1 minute can be performed as a standard action, those that are normally a standard action can be performed as a move action, and those that are normally a move action can be performed as a swift action. Additionally, creatures can cast a spell with the healing description on the ally as a move action (as long as it’s normal casting time is 1 standard action or less).
This is a sense-dependent, language-dependent ability.

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Strategy Boosts for the Starfinder Soldier (Pt. 2)

We continue looking at strategy boosts, an alternate class feature for the soldier. You can take a strategy boost in place of a bonus combat feat, as long as you meet the strategy boost’s minimum soldier level.

(Art by Mike)

Soldier 4
A soldier must be at least 4th level to select these strategy boosts.

Gear Up! (Ex): As a standard action, you can direct your allies to prepare for hazardous situations. Each ally within 60 feet able to see and hear you can draw one weapon or piece of equipment, or activate a piece of equipment already ready for use (including activating environmental protection on worn armor, but not any kind of attack.) This is a sense-dependent, language-dependent ability.

Take Cover! (Ex): As a standard action, you can direct your allies to take cover. Each ally within 60 feet able to see and hear you can move up to their speed directly toward the nearest piece of cover. Allies that do this are staggered on their next turn (even if they are normally immune to being staggered, and this condition cannot be removed prematurely). This is a sense-dependent, language-dependent ability.

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Strategy Boosts for the Starfinder Soldier (Pt. 1)

Strategy boosts are an alternate class feature for the soldier. You can take a strategy boost in place of a bonus combat feat, as long as you meet the strategy boost’s minimum soldier level.

Honestly, while they are themed more around tactical concerns strategy boosts are exactly the same as Soldier Combat Feats, but with a different name and framing device for people who don’t like class-locked feats. (I tend to be fine with class-locked feats, since they have existed as long asd20 feats have existed, but I get why some people find them awkward.)

(Art by grandfailure)

Soldier 2
A soldier must be at least 2nd level to select these strategy boosts.

Fighting Withdrawal (Ex): When you affect an ally with covering fire, or hit a foe with harrying fire, the ally cannot be the target of an attack of opportunity, or the foe cannot make an attack of opportunity. This lasts until the beginning of your next turn.

Fire For Effect (Ex): When you hit and damage a foe, as a reaction you can call out targeting information to your allies to help them effectively attack that target. Allies within 60 feet able to see and hear you and see the target you selected can reroll any damage die from their own attacks against that target that show a 1 on the die. A given die is only rerolled once per attack.

Once you use this ability, you cannot do so again until you score a critical hit against a target (in which case you can use fire for effect as a reaction against that target), or you recuperate*.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.

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Soldier Feats for Starfinder

Unlike the fantasy RPG it evolved from, which has feats only members of the fighter class can take, Starfinder does not have feats that only Soldiers can take. It does have fighting styles and gear boosts as exclusive class features, but those serve somewhat different roles. As a class that is supposed to be the master of standard combat, it still makes sense that soldiers be able to use their bonus combat feats to pick up specific feats that allow them to perform actions in combat other classes cannot master. Here are some possible examples of soldier combat feats.

(Illustration by grandfailure)

Soldier Bonus Feats: These feats can only be taken using the soldier’s bonus combat feat class feature. A soldier must meet the feat’s prerequisites, but also cannot take them with feats gained from other sources–only their bonus feats gained from the soldier class.

BRACE (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You have learned how to set yourself before an attack, trading defense for accuracy.
Prerequisites: Soldier Level 2.
Benefit: At the beginning of your turn, before you take any other actions, you can choose to brace as a move action. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls, and take a -4 penalty to your EAC and KAC. This penalty does not apply to your AC values against combat maneuvers, and it lasts as long as you are braced and until the beginning of your next turn even if your brace ends. You remain braced until you move, or choose to end your brace as part of any other action (which ends the brace after the action you combine it with).

IMPROVED FIRE SUPPORT (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You know how to fire for effect.
Prerequisites: Soldier Level 2.
Benefit: You you provide covering fire or harrying fire (including when you do so while using other abilities, such as Suppressive Fire), until the beginning of your next turn the bonuses apply to all attacks against the ally you protect with covering fire or attacks allies make against the foe you penalize with covering fire.
Additionally if you take a full attack, you can use one or both of those attacks to perform covering fire or harrying fire (taking the normal attack penalty for your full attack to the attack roll needed for the covering or harrying fire to be successful).

OVERWATCH (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You are skilled at attacking when specific circumstances arrive.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 6.
Benefit: You can ready an action to enter overwatch. While in overwatch, until the beginning of your next turn you can make an attack as a reaction to any action by others that you perceive. Your attack always occurs after the triggering action, you you do not need to declare what that circumstance is in advance. If you are knocked down or moved, your overwatch ends.

OVERWATCH MASTERY (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You are expert at attacking when specific circumstances arrive.
Prerequisites: Overwatch, soldier level 8.
Benefit: When you are in overwatch, you can choose to take a -4 penalty to the first attack you make as part of overwatch. If you do so, you can make a second overwatch attack (also at -4) before the beginning of your next turn.

SKIRMISH (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You can move up quickly to engage foes in melee and move swiftly from target to target.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 4.
Benefit: When you make a full attack with melee attacks, you can move up to your speed. You can move before or after both attacks, but all your movement must be taken at once, and you cannot move between the attacks. Once you make a melee attack roll against a foe while using Skirmish, until the beginning of your next turn your movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity from that foe.
Special: If you also have Spring Attack, when you use Skirmish you can break up your movement to move before, between, and after the attacks as long as your total movement does not exceed your speed.

WALKING FIRE (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You can move while laying down heavy fire.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 4.
Benefit: When you make a full attack with ranged attacks, you can move up to your speed. You can move before or after both attacks, but all your movement must be taken at once, and you cannot move between the attacks.
Special: If you also have Shot on the Run, when you use Walking Fire you can break up your movement to move before, between, and after the attacks as long as your total movement does not exceed your speed.

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ShadowFinder Campaign Sketch

ShadowFinder is a concept for a Modern Urban Fantasy setting using heavily-modified Starfinder.

The idea behind ShadowFinder is that there used to be magic in our world, but it went away when the Gods of Old Egypt left to go a place Beyond. Then there was no magic to speak of, until a group of mystic champions arrived in Siberia during WWI to kill Rasputin, and accidentally left a few magic devices behind.

Now it’s the Modern era, and magic is common enough that most governments and many international organizations have at least one department that knows about it, and as needed deals with it. But the greatest protection a mundane creature can have is to believe magic does not exist, and so these in-the-know groups are literally protecting the world by keeping magic a secret. Further, just as vampires cannot be seen in mirror, they (and all magic effects and creatures) cannot clearly be recorded or sensed by any camera, film, or recording device, but are vulnerable to atomic weapons. So magic threats tend to try to stay out of sight, so they don’t force the whole world to grapple with their existence and potentially over-react with devastating power.

Both sides work to keep magic in the Shadows, and to find sources, allies, threats, and lost relics in those shadows to bolster their own side in a never-ending was keep just out of sight.

(Art by grandfailure)

Classes would be drawn from various sources. Soldiers and operative from the core rulebook, certainly, with little change. Likely mechanics, but with neither drones nor exo-cortexes as common options, replaced with some other variable class feature. No solarions or vanguards at all, but maybe sword saints. Warlocks and witches seem more appropriate than mystics or technomancers, though it’d be a shame to not have some kind of modern-device-focused spellcasters — again variant classes might do the trick. Biohackers are out, witchwarpers likely in. The precog is a definite maybe, depending on how it turns out.

Weapons would scale differently, with an equipment list that didn’t assume you got higher- and higher-level weapons, but instead use weapon damage benchmarks to scale up the damage a character does as they gain levels, allowing things like pistols, shotguns, and rifles to retain utility even at extremely high levels.

In a standard characters would at least initially be part of one of the groups that monitor, track, and if needed neutralize supernatural threats, and action would primarily take place in wilderness areas, abandoned towns, lonely highways, and defunct sewers, basements, and subway lines. As players got used to how the ShadowFinder world worked, some scenes might burst into the bright light of day, only to be misconstrued by the public (and maybe even misremembered by witnesses) as gas main explosions, terrorist attacks, or herds of feral hogs.

Plots could include locking down viral zombie outbreaks before they turn into zombie apocalypses, retrieving the book that got moved to a university’s accessible library that is bring people’s nightmares to life, undead serial killers that haunt campgrounds, tracking down wererat colonies that are feeding on the homeless, rescuing student filmmakers from nighthags in the woods, capturing souls that have escaped hell, slaying evil clown demons, and racing against time to beat cultists to the artifacts of power in the bottom of dungeons built in the ancient era to prevent them from falling into mortal hands. Along the way other weirdnesses might be encounters, such as cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, giant alligators in the sewers, giant cockroaches mimicking humans, and genetically engineered giant spiders.

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I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts, but especially longer and more experimental ones like this. If you’d like to see more game-bending rule options (or more fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

KOLONY – A Campaign Framework

“KOLONY” is a campaign framework for Starfinder, and any other rpg you care to adapt it to.

Matter, it turns out, simply cannot exceed the speed of light. However, a sufficiently advanced civilization can rotate artificial wormholes around one another in order to transmit data at vastly greater speeds. This being the case, with only data able to leap between stars in less than centuries, it might be thought that interstellar empires and hostile takeovers of alien worlds are impossible.

It might be thought… but it’s not true.

In 2047, the first transmissions from the Kastellan Collective were received from an artificial wormhole array in orbit of Mars. Though there was a delay averaging from 5 to 20 minutes for signals to move back and forth from the Martian Orbital Wormhole Array (MOWA) to Earth, there appeared to be essentially NO delay from MOWA to wherever the Kastellan Collective is. The Kastellanians claimed with was due to ftl communication, though numerous theories suggest that in truth some intelligence, real or artificial, is physically present at the MOWA.

It doesn’t really matter.

Though unable to physically affect Earth at all, the Kastellians immediately set about being power brokers and empire builders. They could focus MOWA transmissions so tightly that only one receiver on Earth would pick it up. They began making promises, cutting deals, and handing out schematics for advanced technology as their currency of choice. Strong AI. Antigravity. Cold fusion. Genetic engineering. Cloning. Quantum flux manipulation so amazing that to a casual observer, it is indistinguishable from magic.

Major corporations, world governments, and various individuals the Kastellians found useful suddenly had vast knowledge, science, and power. And as long as they did what the Kastellians wanted, they got more. The “Kaste System” quickly went into effect, with those willing to vote for politicians who promised to abolish local government and law in favor for the miracles of the Kastellan Collective getting the best of everything, while everyone else was a second-class citizen almost overnight.

A generation has passed. Upper Kaste humans claim they are still the ruling class, that the Earth is still a Human world for Human habitation.

But it’s a lie.

(Art by grandfailure)

Genetic modification has created dozens of substrains of humans, built to Kastellan specifications. Lashunata. Shirren. Vesk. Ysoki. Kasatha. Brethedans. Genetically still 95% or more human, but so clearly designed for something else. Many are Upper Kaste… but some show more loyalty to their ancestors than theowners of their breeding tubes.

The world is being molded to suite the Kastellians, who claim they’ll send just a few observers, via cryosleep, who will arrive in 5,000 years. Nothing to worry about…

But already Earth culture is being wiped out and replaced by the Kaste. Cemeteries are dug up and the remains and artifacts scanned, so data about them can be sent via MOWA to curious Kastellians… and are often scanned at a molecular level which destroys the original. As Kastellian language and ethics and art begins to dominate culture, old Earth languages and art is lost, and sometimes outlawed. The United Nations is a pale vestige of Human power. Even where they should be contrained by local law, those who call themselves Kaste look down on anyone who does not serve and swear allegiance to the Kastellian way of life. Robotic soldiers and overseers built to Kastellian specifications control more of the streets, and answer only to commands from MOWA.

Sure, the air has begun to smell acrid, but the water is safe. Yes, most of the world’s power is taken up running calculations on Kate computers designed and built for the Kastellians, which spit out answers to the MOWA without any Human ever even knowing what the question was. But that’s a small price to pay for progress, isn’t it? Who cares if we are slowly losing what it means to be human, since we have androids, regeneration machines, and 100,000 years of Kastellian art to catch up on.

And yes, of course, now other interstellar powers have begun to make inroads. The Mygus offer alternatives to Kastellian service… for those who swear obedience to the Mygus. The Chardalos are happy to give even greater scientific advances, in return for human minds to be digitized into pure data and send through their own Wormhole Array to power Chardalos machines. The Favirzon just want to encourage rebels to damage and slow Kastellian servants, especially upper Kaste.

It’s 2080. Alien collaborators control every major nation, and to one degree or another ever big city, major corporation, and even most churches. The idea of humanity, and every art, culture, philosophy, and language of terrestrial origin is at risk of being wiped out. And anyone who doesn’t bow to one or more interstellar information empire is seen as a second-class citizen at best, and a savage or even vermin at worse.

And you?

You realize there’s not much time left to save the Earth from being nothing more than an alien Kolony.

(Art by Melkor)

Resist. Preserve. Rebel.

Kolony is a game of conflict against an alien culture that has opted to consume and reshape Earth to match its own wants and desires. None of those aliens are physically present, but enough Terrans have chosen to become Kaste that they have the upper hand. No one is you enemy because of the species they were born into, or even the nation they hail from. Instead, you oppose members of the various Kaste because of the choices they have made, to prioritize gaining the wealth of alien tech and data at the cost of selling out everyone else on the planet. The Kaste all know that eventually there will be nothing left of humans but museum exhibits, but as long as that happens after their own long life spans, they don’t care.

You do.

As a Starfinder campaign, all magic is presented as quantum manipulation, a form of technology so advanced that even the Kaste who use it don’t understand it. Most regions have laws restricting such quantum tech to approved Kaste members – no one else can legally use any spell, spell-like ability, supernatural ability, or magic or hybrid item. Of course, as rebels, the players are likely to flaunt such rules, but must do so cautiously. Casting a spell while in disguise raiding a datacenter is one thing—it’s worth the risk to prevent people’s minds from being digitized so they can serve as virtual assistants in some distant system, or ancestral relics be put behind paywalls so only Kastellian virtual tours can see them. But in day-to-day life, such displays will bring visits from the automated Patent Police, or Kaste Commissars.

(Art by Kit8 D.O.O.)

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts, but especially longer and more experimental ones like this. If you’d like to see more game-bending rule options (or more fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 7, part 3)

Wrapping up the after-action report for Session Seven of the Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign. The Knight rangers have headed out in their converted Martian Excavationg Machine, now known as The Armadillo, to the Montana city of Hellgate as part of their quest to find and defeat Professor Barkane Adrameliche, who has become the darkling Lord, the Venom King.

But first, they want to check in on the family of the ogre ranch-hand and ally Bo Hoss, who live near Rexburg and stopped communicating with him months ago, though they only ever sent him messages once a season.

Notes adapted from the notes of my wife Lj, a player in the game, and told from her point of view.

>>Later on May 6th day we come to Rexburg.

The Knight Rangers decide to visit Bo Hoss’s family before going in to Rexburg. The ogre clan live in a small valley between Rexburg and Hibbard, in the vents of a mostly-dormant shield volcano.
·        There’s a Pony Express post at the edge of the valley, which looks abandoned. An investigation reveals an old smell of blood in the floor – a Kasatha was stabbed and bled to death right there – no blood drops leading out of the shack. It’s been at least 7-8 months since the pony has been here, and no foot prints nearby for months.
·        The post itself has a hobo mark on it – means this place is unfriendly and unsafe
·        Strongly smells of vulture-like bird – either a large flock or a huge roc visits here every few days but is smart enough to clean up their sign (only their scent gives them away)
·        Place is clean and packed like they left it on purpose
·        The Soldier and Operative, both with DaVinci Wings, take to the air and scout the valley.
     o   The soldier determines that there is wildlife, but they are all acting like there are predators around. He finds and talks to a fisher (a weasellike mustelid) using speak with animals. It says there are “big, death birds” – they crow and dance and speak all the wrong words. They’re all feathered, but they talk to fleshy people
     o   The operative sees at the other end of the valley, beyond the volcano, there is a creepy looking lodge up in the side of the mountainside, in a wetland area. It’s old and rundown, but there’s a light on. Between 100-200 years old, or maybe just a really hard 40 years. Smells of at least two half-elves.

Drive the Armadillo in, but it can’t make it up the mountain to the vents where Bo Hoss’s family live. There are carved-in stairs the Knight Rangers take to get up.
·        There are old stones here carved with South Pacific language, which no PC speaks
·        Also some larger, new stones carved in a very different language
·        We see someone inside the cave – a Bo Hoss-like ogre– carving on the wall.
·        There is a vrock overseeing him. It sees us and screeches – it’s on

FIGHT!

·        The operative shoots and misses, but startles the vrock.
·        The centaur paladin charges and shouts “I name thee demon!” The Knight Rangers conclude it’s a demon.
·        The vrock screams and causes fear, though no one in the area is affected
·        It slams its beak into the paladin for a LOT of damage. It seems to be augmented.
·        The cartograthurge technomancer moves up to see if the new stones are doing something that may effect the ogres
·        The ogre, being now free to move as he will, turns to the stones at the entrance and starts to chisel away the runes yelling “NO!” with each blow
·        The soldier PC spots another figure down the other tunnel

·        The vrock dances and creates a cloud of spores, affecting everyone but the soldier, who is out of range. The centaur paladin grows pustules on her skin from it – blech – but just ignores the penalties and keeps fighting.
·       The technomancer says the menhirs are summoning rocks – brings more demons here, and infuse the area with demonic energy. The ogre keeps trying to destroy it, but it’s taken months to make and is resistant to destruction.
·        The roboticist engineer and her drone joins in to destroy the menhir with the ogre, using her engineering knowledge to help break up its structure. They speed up the destruction quite a bit
·        The figure the PC soldier spotted down another tunnel is a half-elf male with a red, glowing pentagram over one eye who has a wavy-bladed dagger and a pistol. He waves his dagger in the air to cast a spell while he fires. A screaming bullet fires past the Soldier, the bullet crying out obscenities in Infernal.
·        The ogre hits one of the runes on the menhir (natural 1 on a skill check to damage it), and it disintegrates his chisel and damages him mildly.
·        The fenrin Operative bounty hunter moves into the tunnel near , sees another set of stones and alerts the cartograthurge technomancer. Operative shoots the vrock, but the attack bounces.
·        The roboticist mechanic moves into the tunnel to deal with the second menhir. She spots three more ogres manacled and gagged deeper in the tunnel, and lets the other OCs know.
·        Te half-eld cultist and PC Soldier exchange gunfire in a different tunnel. The half-elf staggers to behind a third menhir in that tunnel, and smears his blood on the menhir – his eyes roll up – he chants in Ancient Sumarian and keeps firing at the Soldier.  His bullet missed, but the soldier felt the vileness of it as it passed
·        The Operative bounty hunter moves over to the bound ogres, and identifies that their manacles happen to be compatible with her manacle keys. Ha! She unlocks one, tells it to free the others.
·        The centaur paladin continues to solo the vrock but has to lay on hands for herself – she was running too ragged. It’s smite evil lance strikes against fiendishly-empowered beak bites.
·        The technomancer successfully breaks the front menhir. Half the sense of fiendish energy infusion in the area goes away.
·        The mechanic begins to dismantle the second menhir
·        The soldier (able to ignore the half-elf’s cover), shoots him again – this time, killing him
·        The first menhir broken, the ogre who was attacking it picks up a rock and assists the centaur paladin fight the vrock by flanking it with her. The ogre takes an attack of opportunity from the Vrock to get into position and is bloodied (runs out of stamina), but doesn’t seem to care.
·        The centaur paladin bloodies the vrock – woohoo! Then it smashes her with its beak again, bloodying her.
·        The technomancer unleashes his steampunk bee-bots (the spell “microboat assault) at the vrock, distracting it
·        With Engineering and her drone’s strength, the mechanic roboticist destroys the second menhir, ending the “evil temple” feel entirely, inside this tunnel. The vrock is visible weakened.
·        Soldier, Technomancer, and Mechanic PCs move on to break the third menhir in the other tunnel, byt the dead halg-eld cultist.

·        The manacled ogres frees themselves and follow the fenrun Operative into battle. Second.
·        Aided by the Operative and the orges, the centaur paladin finally does in the vrock. It diminishes into ropey cords of muscle, pus, and rot before it disappears.

·       A second vrock is spotted flying this way. The Knight rangers and freed ogres destroy the remianing menhir, and wait for it to arrive. It is visibly weaker than the first vrock, and faulters when the last mehir is destroyed.
·During the wait, the freed orgres explain two half-elves arrived months ago and summoned a vrock on a stormy knight. Then the vrock captured the ogres and forced them to make the new, evil mehirs. When three were done, the vrock did a dance that turned on half-elf into a second vrock. Then they began being forced to make more menhirs, to turn the last half-elf into a vrock, so the three vrocks could then open a gate to the Abyss.
 ·        Most Knight Rangers take cover to fight the vrock, but the centaur paladin and the ogres stand in open view to draw it in.
·        The second vrock arrives at half health since there are no menhirs, and he’s trying to get to the third one.
·        Paladin charges, Operative and Soldier shoot, Technomancer uses the beebots, Mechanic sics her drone on it, so the vrock is flanked by drone and paladin. Orgres pick up and throw rocks they have prepared for their home’s defense.
·       Vrock is outmatched, though it does ignore magic missiles cast by the technomancer thanks to Spell Resistance, and on a critical hit inflicts a bleed effect on the drone. It dies, much less impressively than the first vrock.

AFTERMATH
·        The ogres are Bo Ghun, Bo Ghran, Bo Deir, and Bo Fo. There are 20 total in the Bo clan (babies grow to full size within 2 years). They invite the Knight Rangers to eat and rest.
·        PCs check out the shack at the end of the valley first — was an abandoned cult house. Find a demonic text telling them how to summon a vrock. The cultists were still 5 months from completing the rocks needed to summon the third vrock, but needed the ogre’s exert stone-carving skills to do it. They told the local townsfolk that the post had been destroyed and that the ogres would come into town to get their mail, townsfolk didn’t care enough to check on why the ogres never did that.
LOOT: Magical Sumerian wavy-bladed dagger; sixteen sets of size-large manacles; demonic text (which is put in a lead-lined safe n the Armadillo the mechanic deigned for radioactives, but will work great for magic too)
·        The ogres give the Knight rangers us a return letter for Bo Hoss.
·        When the Knight Rangers get into Rexburg to mail the letter to Bo Hoss, they tell local officials that because they ignored the inquiry about the Bo clan, demons nearly overran the world.

XPs: 1300
20,270 current total, (23,000 to 7th)

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