View Full Version : Thousands of years from now, on Earth...

2009-01-13, 01:54 AM
Okay, some of you are going to love this, some will hate it, and some will simply say "wtf". Maybe someone's already done this, but here's my idea for...

In the not too distant future, us humans will almost wipe ourselves out in an apocalyptic clash known as the Sixty Minute War: A furious barrage of nuclear weapons, orbital lasers, tailored virus-bombs, and explosives that rend the Earth's tectonic plates. In the millennia that follow, the human race gradually rebuilds its shattered civilizations in new and strange ways. Empires rise and fall, each contributing its own share of strange advanced artifacts and technology to the catalogues of history. As natural resources become increasingly scarce and competition between cities escalates ever higher. Eventually, one man named Quirke changes the course of civilization as we know it with his invention:

The Traction City.

His home city of London is the first of many to adopt this new form of government: An autonomous, self-locomoting city-state that travels on giant treads across the land, harvesting minerals as it goes. Eventually other cities catch on, and the bright (not) new world of Municipal Darwinism begins. In this system, larger cities literally hunt and eat smaller ones with their huge, pneumatic jaws in order to use them for scrap and assimilate their populations for an increased labor force.

In this world, one of the only viable means of transport between Traction Cities is the airship. The knowledge of heavier-than-air flight has been lost to the mists of time, and instead zeppelin technology has risen to new heights. Super high-tech frame construction and fuel compression have allowed many new models to be built, and a zeppelin air force is part of the backbone of any good Traction City's defense.

The stronghold of Batmunkh Gompa, the Shield-Wall, lies at the border of what was once India. It is the bastion of strength for the Anti-Traction League, which is the only remaining place in the world where Traction Cities do not hold sway. The wall is constructed of the remains of many a destroyed city, and none dare try to breach its fortifications. The Anti-Traction League encompasses all of Asia west of the Wall and south of modern-day Russia.

The world of Municipal Darwinism is one of exploration, warfare, and rediscovery of the ancient past (our distant future). Adventurers, mercenaries, and historians range across the planet, engaging in all matter of daring deeds. New technology ("Old Tech") is discovered all the time and these new devices add to the conflict between Traction and Anti-Traction. Soldiers, generals, and great heroes rise up to make a name for themselves before being extinguished.
This is an age of adventure.

(For those of you who've read the books, care to give feedback? I have some ideas for airship combat, as well as using Stalkers as a playable race. I'm thinking of using a modified version of 3.5. Let me know what you think. :smallsmile:)

Next up: Classes!

2009-01-13, 03:03 AM
I think I read the first book in that series. I don't remember jaws though.

Lord Mancow
2009-01-13, 03:09 AM
Looks very interesting.

You might also want to include a fair amount of information about America as players will likely want to go there.

Are you going to include information for the time period at the beginning and end of the series because there is a lot of differences between the political situations of those times.

And preferably have some kind of rules for the London superweapon and O.D.I.N

I don't think stalkers would be a good PC race because the ones that are in the books are basically mindless robots.

2009-01-13, 03:34 AM
I'm going to make it the GM's choice of what era to set it in: pre-MEDUSA (immediately before Mortal Engines), Green Storm (during Predator's Gold and Infernal Devices), and Early Maglev/Post Traction (during and after A Darkling Plain). I'm going to want to collaborate with any willing people on coming up with new (and Old) tech for each setting, but it's certainly doable given enough time. There will be more advanced airship tech during the Green Storm era, and I've been thinking of some fun Maglev gadgets for the later time period. So, to answer your question, it can really be in any time period the GM wants, so long as we make rules for it.

As for the Stalker issue, I think they would be "awakened" Stalkers like Grike. Think about it, Grike couldn't be the only one of his kind out there, could he? Sure, your basic Stalker is basically a Medium zombie with some claws and cybernetics slapped on, but Grikian Stalker would have an Int score (albeit with a penalty) and would have free will. They would have a level adjustment, of course. I'm thinking something along these lines, feel free to critique:

Awakened Stalker: Medium-sized Humanoid. Old Tech subtype. (Probably some form of resistance to bludgeoning and a vulnerability to electricity).

+2 to Spot and Intimidate checks, -2 to Diplomacy and (Sense Motive? Disguise?)

Claws: An Stalker can make 2 claw attacks (1d6 each) as a natural weapon.

Ancient Knowledge, Broken Circuits: A Stalker may take a permanent +2 on checks to any Knowledge skill, as long as they compensate with a permanent -2 on another Knowledge skill. They may do this repeated times, but not with the same skill.

Ability score adjustments: +4 Str, +2 Con, -2 Int.

What level adjustment should this guy be? I'm thinking +2 at the most. Also, any thoughts on further ways to spice it up? Thanks.

Oh yeah, in regards to MEDUSA / ODIN / ABBADON (an idea of mine, one of those "virus bombs"), I will come up with rules for them. They will be treated as major artifacts with lots and lots of (potentially game-breaking, we'll see) power. Maybe some hidden functions too.

2009-01-13, 03:51 AM
Okay, the first major section. As always, this is open to critiques and tweaking (hee hee, that sorta rhymes! :smallsmile:)


The major thing I decided for the classes in this campaign setting was, of course: NO MAGIC. I know it would be cool to see a Stalker Sorcerer or an airship pilot with control weather (drool), but it doesn't fit the tone of The Hungry City Chronicles. Therefore, we're down to these classes (PH only, not counting the ones from the other books): Barbarian, Fighter, Monk (no ki[I], just really good training), Ranger (no spells, maybe add on some more combat options or bonus feats here and there), and Rogue. That's 5. Adding the Swashbuckler, Scout, etc. gives us a little more. Basically, any class that doesn't use spells, invocations, powers, soulmelding, etc. (or can be tweaked to not include this feature) is fair game. Unless, of course, their central feature revolves around something that doesn't exist on Earth in the Zillionth Century (or whatever it is). However, the Biomage by Zeta Kai might be useable for a nuclear mutant character. (With Zeta Kai's permission, of course).

The feel I'm trying to go for here is that magic as it's normally used in D&D doesn't exist, as this is really just Earth in the future. Magic-esque effects can be achieved from various Old Tech gadgets (ex.: an Old Tech raygun could be a [I]wand of lightning bolt). This setting is a place for the martial and cunning classes to thrive. My only regret is that there aren't any Paladins. T.T

One more idea for a class: I know it's stupid, but I somehow got a copy of the World of Warcraft RPG. Yes, WoW in pen-and-paper-and-d20 form. Who'da thought. One interesting feature of this book, though, is the Tinker class. Their job is basically making crazy gadgets that fly, roll, shoot, and go boom. They could potentially be adapted for this campaign.

Okay, that's all for this post. Lemme know what you think, I'm going to try to do a section on America next by popular request (here meaning, 1 vote out of 1).

2009-01-13, 06:16 AM
Definitely do America.

The setting seems pretty unique, and I like the idea of using a Tinker class (even if I loathe WoW with a passion usually reserved for child molesters and people who talk in theaters). Kinda reminds me of a book, I think it was called Okie Cities, only it's on Earth and not out in space.

2009-01-13, 01:46 PM
Alright, by the now-two-votes popular demand...

In the ancient past, America was the greatest power in the world. Its armies were the strongest, and it was famed as a haven of freedom, "the home of the brave".

All that changed in the prelude to the 60 Minute War. America degenerated into a dystopic dictatorship, ruled by giant corporations and the overlord of much of the civilized world. It developed new and terrible weapons in order to subdue the terrified masses of its slave-citizens. It was in America that the first precursors to Stalkers were created: metal exoskeletons that drew on the bio-energy of an unwilling living prisoner to function. As the atrocities compounded and escalated, things eventually reached a breaking point. Several of America's "protectorates" revolted, stole high-tech weapons, and waged war. The resulting conflict's main battles played out in an exceedingly short time, hence "The 60 Minute War". This briefness of fighting was exaggerated by history; the last death throes of civilization took months to play out as malfunctioning machines, horrible plagues, and would-be warlords rampaged across the land. America, the target of the combined attacks of the Protectorates, was the worst off after the conflict. All people still on the continent as the conflict started were utterly obliterated.

The ultimate outcome of all this was the transformation of America into a barren, radioactive, toxic hell. For thousands of years, no life survived there for long. Animals fleeing destruction at the hands of humans (or worse) who strayed there died excruciating deaths, or survived long enough to bear horribly mutated offspring. Humans who returned there, hoping to find new territory, were bitterly disappointed -- to put it mildly.

Fast forward several tens of thousands of years. America resembles the surface of an alien planet: scarred by the craters of giant artillery of ages past, warped beyond recognition by weather, nuclear waste, and time. Strange plants, fungi, animals, and things somewhere in between live here. Migrant subhuman tribes stalk the land, trying to glean a living from this harsh environment.


Okay, backstory: check. Creative liberties to allow for awesome mutants: check. Potential for crazy-ass adventures: check.
America the Beautiful will have some properties of an alternate plane: namely, a toxic and/or radioactive environment in some places and isolated pockets of "wild magic" (a.k.a. ambient energy left over from MEDUSA discharges, like in London in A Darkling Plain). I'm thinking America will be a place where the GM can insert some of the crazier aberrations, plants, and magical beasts without too much tweaking. It also has the potential for (radiation-mutated) human subraces. Electric humans, toxic humans, aquatic humans... the possibilities are endless. Also, this might even be a place where some minimal psionics could be inserted. Also constructs (leftovers from the 60MW).

There's my start, tell me what you think. I'm thinking about designing some human subraces next, or possibly some more rules for classes.

2009-01-15, 11:15 PM
Normally I'd have some new stuff up for you guys, but finals just started. I'm still finding some time here and there though, so in the meantime... Bump.

I really need feedback and suggestions, anything helps! Thanks!:smallsmile:

2009-01-16, 12:27 AM
this looks really cool...not quite my cup of tea, as I really enjoy magic, but I can see this being a great setting.

2009-01-17, 04:33 PM
Thanks! Don't worry about the magic, there's plenty of Old Tech to go around.:smallbiggrin:

Speaking of Old Tech, I've got some preliminaries for MEDUSA! Yayz! Here it is, tell me what you think.

MEDUSA (Major artifact)

This weapon from the 60 Minute war resembles a huge golden orchid. A long telescopic neck rises up from the tangle of wires and plating that is the central body. Large "petals" unfold at the top, surrounding a complicated array of energy gathering and sensory apparatus. When MEDUSA is activated, a hellish purple light corona glows around its "head". The energy arcs and crackles between the five petals before focusing at the center and discharging in a brilliant scorching beam.

MEDUSA is essentially a small nuclear explosion focused into a beam (Yamato Gun, anyone?). Therefore, it can blow up just about anything it needs to.
Any person or animal struck by MEDUSA's beam is instantly killed, no save.
Any airship, other small, non-city vehicle, or small structure (unless specially equipped) is destroyed, no save. If equipped with laser-deflection plating (if this has been invented in the campaign), it must make a DC 40 Fortitude save in order to merely take 10d6 damage. Otherwise, it is affected the same way.
Any Traction City, other huge structure, or large part of the landscape takes varying amounts of damage based upon its construction.
A small Traction City (suburb, town, etc.) is destroyed.
A medium-size Traction City is almost completely destroyed. 1%-5% of its inhabitants survive, depending on their proximity to the blast.
A large Traction city is gutted. 5%-7% of its inhabitants survive as above.
A huge Traction city is mostly destroyed. 7%-10% of its inhabitants survive as above.

MEDUSA discharges disrupt the computing processes of lesser Stalkers and other nonintelligent constructs. All within a 5-mile radius must make a DC 25 Will save or be dazed for 10 minutes.

MEDUSA can be destroyed by overloading its central targeting computer with incorrect data. The power will continue to build with no way to release it, and after 1d4 minutes MEDUSA will explode. This will completely destroy small and medium-size Traction Cities, almost completely destroy large ones, and gut huge ones. In addition, excess energy from the discharge will suffuse the area around the explosion for years to come, creating the "sprite" phenomenon.

There are many MEDUSA cores scattered in the more blighted regions of the Lost Continent, America. They are almost impossible to obtain, guarded as they are by radiation, sprites, and monsters.

Controlling MEDUSA requires separate DC 30 Knowledge (Old Tech) and DC 30 Profession (Engineer) checks for each operation the character wants MEDUSA to perform. Operations include: Power On (2 min), Internal Diagnostics (5 min), Acquire Target (30 sec), Accumulate Charge (2 min), Fire (5 sec), Cool Down (1 hour), and Power Off (1 min). A failure at one of these checks requires the character to try again at +2 to the DC. A character gains a +1 circumstance bonus to their next check for every consecutive success. A character may attempt an "Abort" action at DC 25 at any time. The Abort action only requires a Knowledge (Old Tech) check.

2009-01-19, 12:07 AM
Alright, I'm sorta jumping around topic-wise, but there isn't really any formal organization to this project anyway, so who cares.
A side note before today's topic: If anyone (anyone at all!) wants to join in on this project and help out with some of the crunchier stuff, such as rules for cities, airships, and the like, just PM me. Looking forward to working with you.:smallbiggrin:

Ok, today's portion of the Hungry City Chronicles world is:

Human Subraces

Over the thousands of years since the 60 Minute War, isolated circumstances have allowed small groups of humans to adapt to their environments in new ways. Although not enough time has passed for them to form entirely new species, things are certainly moving in that direction.

Sparktouched Humans

Whether motivated by fear of predators, superstition, or simple coincidence, some groups of humans have come to live in or near MEDUSA zones for generations. Over time, a little of the "sprite" phenomenon has worn off on them.
In a MEDUSA zone, small areas called "hotspots" give off extreme amounts of radiation. Occasionally these "hotspots" will let loose a huge discharge of electrical energy called a "sprite" that seems to be attracted to the bio-electricity contained in humans. People usually stay well away from hotspots for this reason.
Gradually, the energies of a MEDUSA zone begin to rub off on the people living in it. They begin to develop an affinity for the radiation and electricity contained within the hotspots. Eventually, they find that while still harmful, sprites can no longer kill them. They can even store some of the sprite energy and release it at a later time. These Sparktouched humans are beginning to realize the full potential of their bioelectric powers.

Racial Traits:
As human, plus:
Resistance to electricity 10.

If a Sparktouched is subjected to an electricity attack, they store 5 points of damage for every 10 they resist. They can retain this energy for up to 3 days, at which point it dissipates. During those three days, they can release their stored electricity in a ranged touch attack which deals the full amount of damaged stored to their target on a hit.

If a Sparktouched is not subjected to any kind of electric current for more than 2 weeks, they begin to go into withdrawal. They take -1 on Fortitude saves and any skill checks which require Str or Con, plus another -1 for every additional 2 days they spend without electricity.

Lost Boy

The Lost Boys are a group of seagoing thieves ruled over by the enigmatic Uncle. They are stolen from aquatic Traction Cities during their infancy and taken to Grimsby, the Lost Boys' underwater headquarters. They spend their days training in the Burglarium (a sort of obstacle course for thieves) and are taught how to steal things for Uncle. Around the age of 10, they are sent on their first mission to pilfer from an unsuspecting aquatic city. Using their submersible "Limpet" vehicles, they latch onto the underbelly of a city and infiltrate it from there with remote-control "crab cams". After scouting, they sneak into the city, take what they need, and leave.

Lost Boys are agile but weak. Their upbringing has taught them to be ever vigilant and to fend for themselves. As such, they are ideal cat burglars.

Racial Traits:
+2 Dex, -2 Str.
+2 on Move Silently, Hide, and Search checks.