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Mars, 3369

 Post subject: Mars, 3369
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:16 am 
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It has been fourteen hundred years since man first set foot on extraterrestrial soil.

Though scientists and scholars had plotted and wondered and dreamed for thousands of years about the possibility of traveling to the moon, to Mars, to the farthest reaches of the visible galaxy and beyond, it was only through the efforts of a handful of determined men and the resources of the most powerful nation on Earth that the dream was finally achieved. Since then, exploration of the solar system continued first as a benevolent scientific curiosity, and then as Earth's fuel, water and food resources began to dwindle, as a bloodthirsty desperate struggle to survive and outlast. Colonies were painstakingly built in the airless hostile environments of Luna and Mars and even beneath the crushing clouds of Venus.

It was on Mars that humanity found its salvation in the element known as geneseium - a mysterious metallic substance found deep within the frozen water caverns below the red surface of Mars. Geneseium's properties seemed to shift as often as the colors of light reflecting off its multifaceted surfaces; at once light as air, the next moment heavy as lead. Initial experimentation with alloying proved fruitless, but it was only when genesium was subjected to nuclear fission that the greatest eureka of all was found. Genesium could be fused with hydrogen for almost no cost, in a containable manner, releasing nitrogen and oxygen as waste products - and the resultant star-like energy was harnessed and converted to electricity.

Mankind was saved from impending disaster. Almost immediately, the planet Earth experienced an explosion of consumerism and artistic renaissance. Petroleum was converted almost entirely to the production of plastics, and the metals of the earth were drawn out and converted to building after building, machine after machine. Pollution levels skyrocketed, and soon the urbanized planet was reaching out in new directions, seeking aid from the colonies to produce food and water. The decision was made to turn Mars into a permanent Earth colony, and terraforming the land and atmosphere began in the twenty-fifth century.

The introduction of geneseium byproduct into the Martian atmosphere was a godsend for humanity, until the second eureka of the Red Planet - indigenous, sentient lifeforms, attacking human colonies with strange quasi-organic technology in a desperate effort to stave off the pollution of their iron/oxygen dust atmosphere. Reinforcements were called in by the legion, and the First Martian War ended with the creation of the Great Cloud - a three thousand mile-wide "storm" of Earthlike breathable air that trapped solar heat - and the founding of New Rome, the capital of the Mars colony and a flourishing center of interplanetary trade between Earth and the other planetary colonies.

Over the course of a century, the ground itself became arable through the introduction of oxygen, nitrogen and water into the iron-rich red soil, and hardy cultivars of certain crops and feed products were introduced to Mars, followed by cattle and domestic animals. Townships and fortresses grew up around key water supplies, to settle and protect the resources, and geneseium fuel supplies came with the human settlers.

The last great Eureka of Mars was not discovered all at once, but rather by accident. Long-term exposure to genesium and genesium by-product unlocked in the settlers and their descendants the key to Martian technology - referred to by science as "psionics" and by most settlers as simply "magic", latent sensitivites to raw force produced and distrubuted by genesium air. When the first real wizard manifested himself, using 'magic' to pull lightning from the sky to defend his ranch from Martian raiders, the colonial wars for genesium lodes began in earnest. More and more users of magic augmented corporate and government forces wielding conventional solid and energy weapons and nuclear fission bombs, and the settlers fought back. Magic was used in increasingly destructive ways - calling down lightning, activating ancient Martian tech, and even raising the dead to send zombie armies to do battle. Over the course of the remainder of the millenium, the New Roman military fought to maintain control of trade and power, and eventually stood victorious over the ashes of centuries worth of destroying and rebuilding.

In the last three centuries, an uneasy truce has developed between New Rome and the outlying settlers. Small city-states have arisen to protect the citizens from rival states, Martian raiders, and the still-roaming bands of undead. Ranches and farms exist in tight clusters around water sources, and a sort of rough law exists to punish those who would prey on the undefended. Trade continues between Mars and the mother planet, and the outlying colonies on Luna, Venus, Mercury, and the moons of Jupiter. Life goes on.

It is on this world, hot and dry and wild, that you must survive and learn to thrive. It is up to you to determine your goals, your drive, and your destiny.

Saddle up.


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 Post subject: Mars, 3369
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:21 am 
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Devil's Well has existed in one form or another for almost five hundred years. The location was settled by Arthur P. King and his family and retainers on the top of a large aquifer accessible by wells and by the mouth of the nearby King Cavern, which is being mined daily for ice and respectable quantities of geneseium. It sits very near the edge of the Great Cloud, and only a few days' riding will see the air turn cold and thin as a fella approaches the inhospitable border of Martian territory.

Being over a thousand miles from the walls and domes of New Rome and a week's riding from the nearest settlement, and being the only major source of water and geneseium in the area means that Devil's Well is no stranger to war and raiding. Bandits and Martians regularly encroach upon the farms and ranches surrounding the handful of still-standing buildings left over from the last real battle, forcing every settler to act as his own militia, and not always with success. Worse, undead activity is not unheard of, and the town crouches in terrified wait for the next big wave of zombies and vampires.

Still, there's life to be had and money to be made at the Devil's Well. Entrepreneurial-minded city slickers and hard-headed cattle barons come to get rich off fertile iron-rich soil and real ice water. Bounty hunters respond to the calls of Sheriff Connell McCracken, the beleaguered lawman trying to keep order in the town and protect it from internal and external threats. Anyone who wants a crack at a life that's tough but fair, demanding blood, sweat and tears in exchange for real freedom and lots of open space - that's the citizens of Devil's Well.

Devil's Well - Citizen Population approx. 1100

Industry - Solid water mining, geneseium extraction, cattle ranching, maize and wheat farming, sustenance farming

Standing military - 1 permanent, 4-8 militia, few weapon emplacements, no airforce, some walls

Prominent Citizens
Nathaniel Walpole, mayor by election, maize farmer
Connell McCracken, sheriff
Trudy Weinstein, bank president and loan officer
Beauregard T. Goodapple, landowner, cattleman
Dr. Caroline Garcia, medical doctor
Jefferson Barnes, mine foreman
Mason Upwright, wizard

Known Threats
A gang known as the "Red Eaters", which has taken the bombed-out irradiated section of Devil's Well as its Turf, led by Sick-End
Numerous small bands of outlying raiders
Martian invasion squads
Zombies
Vampires


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 Post subject: Mars, 3369
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:18 am 
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Skills and Skill Tests

Skills are a measure of one's ability to perform in the game. When interacting with NPCs or the environment, skill rolls may be required to achieve desired results. PCs may require die rolls to adjudicate disputes between themselves, but this is not required if all PCs involve deem it unnecessary.

Your level of proficiency in a given skill is measured by dice, which indicates how many dice you throw when using the skill, and sides, which indicate how many sides each die has. The more sides your dice have, the greater your success can be - but the more dice you roll, the less your chances of rolling low will be. As the game is being played with virtual die rollers, it is possible (and likely) that you will be using non-standard or physically impossible die sizes such as d5, d11 or d386.

Skills are divided into three categories: Basic skills which govern large areas of range life, specialized skills which narrow and focus a range-rider's expertise, and scholar skills which are not otherwise governed by the typical set of tools that a range-rider might experience in his life. A character may employ any skill to achieve his ends by giving a description of how he intends to use it, and the GM will respond by either refusing the skill as invalid ("No, Bob, you cannot use your skill as a cowboy to rope the bullet out of midair.") or by asking for a skill test. During the skill test, the player will roll as many dice of the size indicated by his basic (and specialized if applicable) skill.

Skills are tested either by directly opposed skill rolls or by simple success tests. Opposed skill rolls are most typically encountered when a player is engaged with NPCs or PCs and each involved party has differing goals in the encounter, and will be found most often during one-on-one or group play sessions. Simple success rolls are most typically encountered when a player is attempting to create, destroy or achieve something unopposed by other beings, and will be found most often in forum post RP.

A simple success roll is a roll against a predetermined target number. If the number is reached or exceeded, the desired result is achieved. If the number is not met, the task is met with failure. Critical success can be achieved (with results exceeding the expectation) by exceeding the target number by 4 or more, and critical failure (results being catastrophic, ending in a worse situation than one started in) by rolling all 1s on every thrown die, or achieving the lowest possible result.

Example One: Bob has discovered valuable clean drinking water on his land. In order to get it, he declares that he will build a well using his Engineer 1d4 (Farmhand 1d6) skill. The GM declares this valid, and decides that such a feat would be relatively simple for a trained engineer, but difficult for an ordinary farmhand, and sets the success number at 6. Bob rolls a 7, and the GM informs Bob that his new well is now pumping clean water. Hooray!

Example Two: Using the same example above with the same skill - Engineer 1d4 (Farmhand 1d6) - Bob rolls a perfect 10, four more than the target of 6. The GM declares the skill challenge a critical success, informing Bob that his well seems to have diverted some of the flow of the spring below, and his land is now being irrigated by an artesian spring, making it much easier to grow his crops. Double hooray!

Example Three: Same example, same skills, but Bob rolls a 5. The GM informs Bob that his attempt at digging the well has failed, but if he would like to spend more time in another area, he could try again. Boo.

Example Four: Same example, same skills, but Bob rolls a 2. Oh, no! 2 on two dice is the lowest possible result (all 1s), and so Bob has met with critical failure. The GM rules that Bob has dug too deep, and all of the water in his little spring has disappeared into the bowels of the planet. Double boo!

Degrees of critical success or failure should reflect the difference between the roll and the target number. A roll of 25 on a target of 5 should be a fantastic windfall ("out of the ground came a bubblin' crude", for example), and a roll of 1 on a target number of 40 should be a truly spectacular fail (Bob's well has created an earthquake and his whole farmstead has been swallowed!).

An opposed skill roll competes directly with another skill roll, and the highest roll achieves a degree of success indicated by the difference in rolls. Each involved party may choose any skill they wish to achieve their result, and must give a general description of how the skill is being used and what result they wish to achieve (as always, subject to GM discretion). Critical success is given to the initiator of the skill test if he exceeds his opponent's roll by 4 or more, or critical failure is given if the opponent exceeds his roll by 4 or more.

Example One: Bob wants to shoot Jim in the head with his pistol! Bob declares his use of Marksman 1d7 to shoot Jim's lying head clean off. Jim responds that he will drop to the floor as soon as he sees the muzzle flash, and declares his use of Gymnast 1d2 (Athletics 1d6). The GM rules both skills valid, and Bob and Jim roll the dice. Bob rolls a 5, and Jim rolls a 4 - which means, according to the GM, that Jim was fast but not fast enough and has been hit in the arm - a painful and possibly debilitating flesh wound!

Example Two: Same example, but Bob rolls a 7 and Jim rolls a 3. 7 is 4 more than 3 (yes, really!), and therefore Bob has scored a critical success! Jim now has a gaping head-wound to deal with, and will probably have to immediately make a simple success check to not be dead, depending on the GM's decision and the flow of the roleplay.

Example Three: Same example, but Bob rolls a crummy 1 and Jim rolls a 6. Bob rates a critical failure, and the GM determines that his gun has jammed! He will need to make another check to unjam and reload it, and in the meanwhile, Jim could make his escape, or even take his revenge!

Again, as above, the degree of success or failure should be indicated by the differences in the rolls. If Bob had rolled a 7 and Jim a 4, it might not be a critical success, but Jim could still have been hit right in his noggin - a grazing bullet leaving a burning, stinging gash on the top of poor Jimbo's skull that sends him reeling to the floor, alive but disoriented. Similarly, if Bob had rolled a 1 compared to Jim's 12, it's entirely possible that Bob's gun could have simply detonated in his hand. When engaging NPCs in opposing rolls, the effects are at the discretion of the GM, but in PC vs. PC rolls, the players themselves are in charge, and should bear this in mind!

Experience

Experience is granted one point at a time by the GM for good, exciting or interesting roleplay and for achieving objectives set both by the GM and by the player themselves. Experience may be spent on improving skills: basic skills cost one point to increase the sides of the die by one, and specialty or scholar skills cost two points to increase the sides of the die by three, netting an increase of one side by spending one point and then two more by spending the second.

Players may also choose to increase the number of dice thrown by spending three points and then halving the size of the die. This may only be done with dice showing an even number of sides (d4, d6, d8, etc). A skill may never have more dice in its pool than the size of the die itself.

A player may choose to add sides to any skill he wishes to possess, including new Specialties or brand-new Scholar skills. Experience may be pooled if so desired, but this is rarely necessary or useful.

Example One: Bob spends three experience points and converts his 1d6 Athletics to 2d3. He then spends two experience points to increase his 2d3 Athletics skill to 2d5.

Example Two: Bob spends one point to increase his 1d2 Laser Gunner to 1d3. He then spends one more point to increase his 1d3 Laser Gunner to 1d5. He then spends yet another point to increase his 1d5 Laser Gunner to 1d6. Finally, he spends three points to change his 1d6 Laser Gunner to 2d3.


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 Post subject: Mars, 3369
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:20 am 
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Basic Skills

Every player begins the game with 1d4 in every basic skill, to represent the simplest level of expertise that has been acquired as a settler of the Martian ranges. They are relatively expensive to improve, but represent a broad scope of activities. COST: 1 XP per 1 side (1d4 -> 1d5 -> 1d6 etc)

Athlete - Physical prowess. This skill includes all manner of athletic feats beyond simply moving around, in particular distance running, sprinting, jumping, climbing, and feats of endurance. Swimming is not included, due to the scarcity of standing water on Mars. Related specialties: Gymnast, swimmer, escape artist.

Brawler - Melee combat. This skill includes unarmed combat, wrestling, grappling, and the use of melee weapons without much finesse, especially clubs and axes. Related specialties: Knife master, swordsman, martial artist.

Farmhand - Agriculture. This skill includes sowing and reaping plant harvests, raising and butchering cattle, basic equipment maintenance and repair, and supervised construction of buildings and public works. Related specialties: Cowboy, mechanic, engineer.

Marksman - Shooting. This skill typically represents the use, maintenance and repair powder-based solid shot guns of all kinds, especially pistols, rifles, shotguns and submachine-guns. Almost everyone on Mars has some degree of familiarity with a gun, due to the harsh life and the reality of raiders, revolutionaries, native Martians and the undead. This skill also represents basic archery skills. Related specialties: Laser gunner, heavy gunner, sharpshooter.

Ranger- Wilderness survival. This skill includes hunting, trapping, cooking, basic life preservation techniques, water dowsing and pathfinding. Related specialties: Mountain man, slayer, doctor.

Rider - Piloting, either by mechanical or animal means. This skiill includes the ability to ride horses or horse-like creatures, as well as the ability to drive cars, motorcycles, or small hovercraft. This skill does not include spacecraft of any kind. Related specialties: Horseman, stunt pilot, space jockey.

Gambler - Gambling, and also public speaking and the art of lying. This skill includes not only actual games of luck or skill, but also influencing and manipulating people through the art of speaking smoothly, and using underhanded means such as sleight of hand or lockpicking to achieve one's ends. Related specialties: Politician, burglar, ninja assassin.

Magician - Literal magic. Exposure to the planet itself over generations since the terraforming has caused a very low level of latent magical sensitivity in the human inhabitants of Mars. This skill represents merely sensitivity to the arcane or occult and rarely manifests itself in active application and cannot be used to invoke magical effects without the aid of magical objects or specialty study. Related specialties: Artificer, shaman, wizard.

Specialty Skills

Specialty skills represent advanced training or techniques, acquired either through rigorous study or an especially niche career path. When using a specialty skill, a player rolls both the specialty skill and its parent basic skill dice, and adds the result. Specialty skills cover a narrow field of usefulness, but are easier to progress in than basic skills. COST: 2 XP per 3 sides (1d1 -> 1d3 -> 1d4 -> 1d6 etc)

Gymnast (Athlete) - A gymnast is capable of performing acrobatic acts and feats of extreme physical precision, such as flips, tumbles, exceptionally long or high jumps, balancing acts, climbing without tools, and any other similar physical actions (at the GM's discretion).

Swimmer (Athlete) - A swimmer, through some stroke of luck, has spent enough time near bodies of water to learn how to swim efficiently. A swimmer can move through water with great speed, can hold his breath underwater for greater periods of time, and can apply their skills to other fluids they happen to find themselves immersed in as well (with varied effects depending on viscosity).

Escape Artist (Athlete) - An escape artist has learned to contort and move his body and mind, the better to escape confinement or captivity. He can use this skill to escape from being grappled, tied, chained, locked in a small box, or to slip into small spaces or between bars (at the GM's discretion). He may also use this skill in place of Gambler or Burglar to pick locks, and also to conceal small objects on his person.

Knife Master (Brawler) - The knife master has learned how to wield and throw knives or other small, handheld blades with accuracy and finesse. This skill may be applied when fighting hand-to-hand with a knife or other sharp stabbing implement, and is also helpful when throwing knives, hatchets or grenades (and grenade-like objects).

Swordsman (Brawler) - A swordsman has learned to wield large one- or two-handed blades with great skill and dexterity. Training as a swordsman allows the character to fight with exceptional skill when using any kind of fencing foil, sword or sword-like bladed object.

Martial Artist (Brawler) - The martial artist has conditioned and trained his body and mind, giving him deadly skill in the art of unarmed combat. He can use his arms, legs and head to great effect in hand-to-hand combat, allowing him to parry and disarm armed foes with ease or even strike killing blows with his fists and feet.

Cowboy (Farmhand) - A cowboy is a skilled herder of cattle and handler of animals, using rope, his riding skills and his own physical and mental presence to calm, command and defend the beasts of the Martian range. He may use this skill in place of Ranger or Slayer to hunt, kill, clean and cook animals.

Mechanic (Farmhand) - A mechanic has learned how to assemble, disassemble, clean, maintain, repair, and construct machines of all kinds, and can also be relied on to deal with computer databases and long-distance communication. Mechanics are familiar with the repair and maintenance of most melee weapons and solid-shot guns, as well.

Engineer (Farmhand) - Engineers are crucial to the construction, maintenance and defense of buildings and public works, dealing in farm construction, irrigation, walls and breastworks, defensible positions, building architecture, and large-scale mechanical or factory construction.

Laser Gunner (Marksman) - A laser gunner is specially trained in the use and maintenance of long-range energy weapons such as laser guns, plasma guns, sonic emitters and (at GM's discretion) orbital defense cannons. A person lacking this training will find it exceedingly difficult to effectively use an energy weapon with any accuracy.

Heavy Gunner (Marksman) - Heavy gunners have learned how to handle and maintain large weapons such as missile launchers, recoilless rifles, machine guns, and light artillery, and could also be called on to handle heavy artillery or vehicle-mounted weapons with some degree of success.

Sharpshooter (Marksman) - The sharpshooter is a marksman who has trained so exhaustively in the use of solid-shot weapons that his skill level exceeds even the best trained militiaman or hunter - his skills with a pistol, rifle or shotgun border on the artistic. Sharpshooting allows a character to perform feats of amazing accuracy, such as extreme-distance target shooting, sniping, hip shooting, and trick shots.

Mountain Man (Ranger) - A mountain man has learned to survive on his own, living off the land and his own wits in often-excruciatingly difficult conditions such as low oxygen, extreme cold or heat, very little food or water, areas of heavy sand cover, and areas rich in wild magical energy.

Slayer (Ranger) - The slayer is at home when dealing with the hunting, trapping, slaying and possibly eating of the beasts of the Martian range. He has learned to track his quarry with great skill, and knows exactly how best to aim to kill as mercifully and quickly as possible.

Doctor (Ranger) - A doctor is a man of medicine, by necessity both for people and animals. He understands the use of medicines, local herbs and bandages, and is capable of performing life-saving surgery if need be. When not healing, he is capable of performing dentistry and barber's services if he so desires. The local doctor is very often a revered and respected man of science and learning, as necessary as food and guns to a growing community.

Horseman (Rider) - A horseman excels in the use of a living horse or horse-like mount, often to the point where man and mount are capable of acting as one fluid unit. A skilled horseman can care for his personal mount and those of others, and can be expected to perform any number of feats while mounted that a less practised rider would find difficult or impossible.

Stunt Pilot (Rider) - The stunt pilot has learned how to push his machine to the limits and beyond. When piloting a land-vehicle such as a motorcycle, car, or hovercraft, the stunt pilot can perform driving tricks, defensive or offensive driving stunts, and can be relied upon to maintain safety for himself and his passengers in any level of high-impact or high-stress conditions.

Space Jockey (Rider) - A space jockey is one of the few and the proud, a genuine traveler of the stars, riding the black trails both inward toward Mercury and out to the moons of Jupiter. His training enables him to chart astronavigational paths between his current location and a destination in space, and also to pilot atmospheric aircraft such as airplanes, gliders, helicopters and shuttlecraft. There will scarcely be more than a double handful of space jockeys on Mars at any given time; the astronomical (ha!) cost of planetary exodus and the enormous demand for interplanetary goods keep the majority of spacers shuttling between planets almost constantly.

Politician (Gambler) - Politicians have learned to use the spoken and written word to influence and manipulate others into behaving in a desired manner. A politician can exert his own opinion and bring others around to it, either through bargaining, appealing to emotion or reason, or outright lying and getting away with it.

Burglar (Gambler) - A burglar has learned how to make the possessions of others his own, by skill, guile and outright theft. Burglars can pick locks, evade or disarm traps, and use sleight of hand to palm objects or conceal them on his person. A burglar can use this skill in place of Escape Artist to conceal objects on his person or escape from mechanical restraint.

Ninja Assassin (Gambler) - The ninja assassin is a master of concealment, through camouflage, stealth and disguise. He has learned to move silently, hide himself in the shadows or even in plain sight (at GM's discretion), apply makeup or disguses to alter his appearance, and most potently of all, how to stalk and kill his sentient prey in the most efficient and discreet manner.

Artificer (Magician) - An artificer is a scholar of the relics of Mars, both mystically and technologically arcane. Artificers can make use of such objects with greater potency and effectiveness than lesser magicians, and can even learn to pour his own magical energies into creating artifacts of his own.

Shaman (Magician) - Shamans commune with the spirits of nature, the dead, and Mars itself to affect their surroundings. The native magicians of Mars typically will be shamans, begging the other side for aid in exchange for favors done in this world and the next. Shamanism deals mostly with alteration and enhancement of the natural world.

Wizard (Magician) - A wizard deals with raw magical energy in its purest form, unfiltered through objects or bodies; it is power made manifest, and is most commonly used to create or destroy. Wizards are perhaps the most common form of human magician, and often the most feared. It is due to wizardry that the undead now walk the range.

Scholar Skills

Scholar skills represent areas of study or expertise that lie outside the realm of a typical range-rider's experience. Most often these skills come in the form of scientific or artistic study uncommon to the Martian range (example - Fine Cuisine), but it can also represent an extremely narrow field of specialization (example - Neurosurgeon (Doctor [Ranger]) ). Scholar skills may be purchased beginning at 1d1 at the same rate as Specialization skills. In the case of uncommon studies, the skill is used by itself, and in the case of narrow specialization, the skill is rolled with the parent specialization and basic skills, and all three rolls added together. COST: 2 XP per 3 sides

Scholar skills should be discussed with and approved by your GM before implementing, and are subject to the GM's discretion. Creative uses are encouraged!


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