Sorry for broadcast delay folks, its been the traditional cavalcade of family weddings and sickness. In recompense, here’s some design notes regarding the last little arc of our Flying Circus game.
Though Flying Circus obviously draws very heavily from historical sources when it comes to how its planes operate, the setting has been from the beginning plugged as, I suppose, a kind of diesel-punk laced high fantasy. Now we were operating in an odd place here, as a lot of the setting info is not yet published and we had adopted a slightly alternative setting anyway. Not wanting to jump straight to dragons, I decided to bring in an alternative airborne creature.
Naturally, the solution came in the form of a strange multilingual pun.
Now, our setting Maralto draws heavily on Italian imagery, and the Italian word for witch is strega. We can trace the route of this word back to the Latin strix, for screech owl, and its distant cousin strige does in fact parse as “a bird of ill omen”, which could be seen as equivalent to the bad reputation that crows and ravens have in English speaking countries. So naturally this gets thoughts of psychopomp birds stirring around in my brain.
The Striges then, within our setting, are a kind of revenant. When a strong-willed witch or sorcerer dies and that death cuts short the great work of their lives, the screech owls of the ghost world may offer them a choice. Rather than carrying them on into the great unknown beyond death, the owl may bring their spirit back into the world, repairing the body in their own image and fueling it with a hunger for blood, vengeance and the shadowy magic of the netherworld.
With this flickering magic surging through their skeletal frames and between their grey feathers, the Striges are given a near immortal chance at vengeance or, more rarely, closure. Their shadow wings carry them as fast as a fighter plane, and the long claws on their fingers can tear horrific gouges in steel plate and flesh alike. Perhaps most alarmingly, these avian horrors seem beyond the reach of death; though they can most certainly be wounded and broken in the manner of mortal things, the shadows will knit them back together in time. There are rumours that only burial with full funerary rites in consecrated ground will spell a true end to these creatures, but given the rarity of priests willing to cooperate with such actions this remains speculation.
So there you have it. Our terrifying owl-channelling sky witches were based on an old Italian play on words and some bits of James O’Barr’s The Crow, with perhaps a smattering of the Strix from Vampire the Requiem. But ain’t it funny how inspiration works that way…?
Good hunting to y’all.
For those of you following along at home, you may have recognised that the Liberation Industries crew frequently leap headlong into creative endeavours, followed by screams, explosions and a great deal of boozy rambling close at their heels.
But after a spectacular chrysalis, the first instalment of Lee’s book series, The Ferryman’s Apprentice, is now available for you to possess! So for those among you who prefer something with physical mass, its your lucky day; head over to Amazon and check this out!
You can find more ways to support Lee at their website, Whimsy and Metaphor, including the book in both electronic and physical format, so… well , frankly, the more you support Lee the higher the number of Jury the Rigger’s clones you all get to meet. Ultimately its win-win.
Keep on rockin’, listeners (and readers).
With the final exhibition match closing out and the steady stream of coffee-tequila beginning to simulate the effects of a long term tomato-only diet on the minds of the players, the capers of our wrestlers coast to an irrational, shouty denoument… will they be able to scrape together enough to save the Federation?
Fates Worse Than Death: Rentpunk is a product of Vajra Enterprises, and frankly deserves your time and attention. It is super cool!
With injuries like these, Vand the Whisper, Veleris the Hound and Miss Ruby the Spider could really do with a cocktail, a massage and two weeks on a beach in Iruvia. What they have is two canisters of Leviathan Oil, some hastily trained orphans, a bag of improvised explosives and a priest to kill.
Time to do the Deep Lord’s work.
Pic is Urban Explorer Aboard Derelict Frigate by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC A N$.
Blades in the Dark is a fantastic game, and you’re likely to be hearing a lot more of it and its descendants from us.
Having taken a look in our previous installments at the City and the Factions that we created for our Karma in the Dark game, its probably time that we took a look at our leads! The base unit of Karma is a team of crooks toeing the line between striving and selling out… and its these desperate folks that we’ll be following on their adventures.
Our group decided on a crew of Cleaners… that being cleaners in the Jean Reno sense, specializing cover-ups, frame jobs, and at the extreme end outright assassination. Their lair is tucked away in the guts of a long abandoned tower block in the labyrinthine heart of Metro East’s decaying coastal highrises. Though partially collapsed, the team is in the process of stripping the building for resources.
Having chosen Anarchy as their Ideal, they’re going to need all of the resources they can get… but with their Tenacious rep and a knack for getting others to take the blame for their misdeeds, if anybody’s going to get away with it.
Jury the Rigger (Tech Jockey)
The teams resident tech head and getaway driver, Jury grew up in the elegant surrounds of one of the Clan capsule communities until the orcish tusks and muscles manifested along with puberty. Packed away to a vocational education away from prying eyes, Jury makes most of his money as a mechanic down in the lower levels these days. Despite little hints of sentimentality for his upbringing, Jury prefers a world where people have a purpose of their own, rather than being viewed as disposable.
Rebellion: Consumerism, Virtue: Give new purpose to the forgotten, Look: Mechanic Chic
Having made an unceremonious exit from her Clan after an unforgivable betrayal, Evie refined her understanding of the Source to push her body past the limitations of the petty laws of physics. As a highborn and an elf, she enjoyed a more refined upbringing than her compatriots, which made the fall more even more scarring, leaving Evie distrustful and wary of authority structures. Admittedly, when you’re a Source-fueled brawler who can free-run up sheer glass walls, structures begin to feel less and less real.
Rebellion: Exploitation, Virtue: I keep my promises, Look: Goth Clergy, Jaded: Distrust
If a life spent in and out of prison taught Bertrand anything, it was how to keep his head down. With a knack for co-opting social groups and a will to collapse concentrated power, he knows that power isn’t established by violence or strength, but by having others willing to use those for you. Understated, unobtrusive and on the run, Bertrand acts as a parasite living in the body of large and dangerous factions, and for now remains undetected… only time will tell how much damage he can do.
Rebellion: Monopoly, Virtue: I will feed the hungry, Look: Grey and Greasy
Fixer: Granny Lock
The ageing matriarch of an ever larger clan of low grade street criminals, Granny Lock has her ear to a lot of keyholes, including a string of recent coffee dates with Doctor Pierce of the Tailors’ Union. Granny shifts seamlessly between nurturing and ruthless; she knows from harsh experience that the city runs on the law of the wild, but also that its impossible to survive there alone. To her, the team are somewhere between adopted wastrels and a tentative retirement plan… no sense letting such talent go to waste, after all…
Traits: Ambitious, Patient, Drive: Secure the family’s future, Circle: Organised Crime
Tune in this Sunday to see what happens when the City and the Team collide…
With the wounds of their last encounter barely closed, the Disciples of the Depths set their eyes on clearing the Docks of their competition. Will Veleris the Hound, Vand the Whisper and Miss Ruby the Spider be able to send a Priest of Ecstasy to their God once the stars are right?
Blades in the Dark is a game of heists and bastardy set in a haunted industrial city, and is a product of John Harper’s fevered mind. Check it out.
Well, the Liberation Industries team took to the world and character creation section of our Karma in the Dark game with characteristic gusto. The full recording of this technologically hobbled session is still available through the Whimsy and Metaphor Twitch, and should surface on our Youtube pretty soon. But for those in the Too Long, Didn’t Listen camp… I’m going to do a few quick blog posts here to summarize the results, and whet your appetites for when the next live sessions air.
Welcome to Metro East
Now Karma offers us some downright robust world building tools; though the game’s elevator pitch is probably “Blades Powered Shadowrun” its got a lot more going for it than that, and can basically handle all of your magic cyberpunk needs. It lets you build a world with a strong focus on privilege, and the exact avenues that power is expressed in that dystopia.
Naturally, we decided to set our game in Sydney, Australia. Or at least, what’s left of it.
Power is influenced by three factors in Karma, chosen by the players at the start of the campaign. Our group chose Metatype as one factor in a nod to classic Shadowrun; elves and humans have an easier time negotiating society than their goblinoid cousins. The other two factors we chose were Bloodline and Property, with family ties to the Oligarch Clans offering a measure of protection, and a citizen’s social clout strongly resting on how much capital they can bring to bear.
With that in place, we have a distinctly neo-feudal city.
Glittering Heights, Murky Depths
Even before the magical Outbreak hit, Metro East was not doing so well. With its lower levels subsiding in ever greater floodwaters and further growth choked by geographical restrictions, the skyline grew desperately taller, clawing for the sky even as the building’s foundations were swallowed by the sea. The city grew upwards in layers, like a mad termite mound.
Then the Outbreak struck, and the world changed completely. With the return of magic to the world, technology that had been the lifeblood of a globalised economy – wireless communication, positioning satellites, even long distance radio – went silent in the face of a global magical susurrus. Technology had to be rebuilt in shielded, wired form, and cities were left to fend for themselves. It is a metropolis of text-fed terminals, flickering hologram billboards, and murky phone booths with gnarled nerve-jack leads swinging in the ever present storm winds.
The crash was eighty years ago, and only now are we returning to the globalised world that was lost. So far, even the great corporations have been unable to challenge the primacy of the City States, but with more ships arriving in Metro East from abroad every day, that may be set to change.
It is a city of great divisions. Industry is driven by intensive, exploitative aquaculture and risky ocean mining, offset by a ravenous urge for respect that has manifested in a cutting edge fashion scene. The Oligarchs maintain their hold through monopolies on the most alarming magic – they say the rites of divination that keep them ahead of their rivals are unspeakably horrid – and access to the best medical care. They have developed a taste for flaunting their elegant, tailored bioware, the symbol of their coveted longevity, with the fashion for gauzy, revealing garments that display humanity’s augmented peak. For the kelp-fed poor, crude cyberware can be the difference between life and death, but social pressure often drives it to be covered; given the harsh weather, the working classes make their way in shrouds and bulky raincoats through the torrid, waterlogged industrial quarters. Life expectancy gets lower the deeper you go.
Metro East is viewed by outsiders as both an enclave of vain upstarts, and a pit of desperate criminal savagery… and both of these statements are true.
Tune in next week, and we’ll take a look at some of the City’s movers and shakers, at least in the tumbledown neighbourhood our characters inhabit. If you have any questions, drop a comment, or have a look at Cass K Designs; this game comes thoroughly recommended!
Hey hey imaginary listeners!
We are taking the Liberation Industries magic into the modern age with the help of Whimsy and Metaphor, and taking our teeth to Cass K’s fantastic Shadowrun/Blades in the Dark hybrid, Karma in the Dark!
The show will be airing on Twitch at 7pm tomorrow (Sunday 1st April), Australian Eastern Standard Time. The first session will be mostly world creation, but for the die-hards among you I look forward to seeing you there!
Apologies for the accidental hiatus we have been on for the first half of the month, imaginary listeners.
Due to the terrors of house moving we have been without a reliable internet connection here at Liberation Industries, but with that reestablished and things settling back to a modicum of sanity, we should have your usual transmissions flying out later in the week.
We’re gonna be doing our darndest to have you all caught up by the end of the month, as frankly leaving bandwidth fallow feels… wrong, somehow. So for now, just this.
We’re not dead yet, listeners. We just don’t exist.
Happy New Years imaginary listeners!
We break in 2018 with an episode of Nick Wedig’s scarcity driven space western, Longshot! Is this an ill omen? Maybe! But more importantly, will the residents of Journey’s End find out who murdered Sheriff Torkelson – and enough to eat for that matter – before dwindling resources finish them off?
Nick Wedig continues to make fantastic Creative Commons games. Check them out over at Teapot Dome Games!