Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

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moonowl67
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Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#1 Postby moonowl67 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:15 am

My own creation! (Well, mostly . . . ) As a side project while running a Classic Greyhawk campaign in our favorite system, I brewed up this little gumbo. The idea is/was to take my favorite parts of both the Science Fiction Companion and the Fantasy Companion, and weave them into a single setting. It remained a side project for a couple of months, and then one of my players pulled out of the game, citing as his reason that he was having a hard time imaging the DnD setting under a Savage Worlds system.

This prompted a little introspection, and I quickly realized that, yes, more of my most successful games occurred during the Star Wars campaign. With Starships, Fighters, and hover-craft, there simply was more oppurtunity to show off the shinier parts of the Savage Worlds system. Plus, while I've run DnD-type games for almost four decades, my go-to speculative fiction runs on the science fiction side. My brain simply goes that way, so, why fight it? The side-project moved to the fore-front and has had one very successful session, so far.

I started with a classic Session Zero, and let the characters generated by the players decide the kick-off and direction for the campaign. At some point, I may add details of the space station to the pdf.

My own Player's Guide included details from various third-party sources, which gave my players close to 50 races to choose from. Unfortunately, those were not included in the on-line player's guide, out of respect for other people's IP. The fact that that one of the crewmen is a mushroom man shows that there's a place for everyone in this setting!

Enough with the history, here is the link:
http://jpm-art.com/coldsuns.htm

As noted, you will need both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Companions to make the most of it. Also, having a download of the Savage Rift's Player's Companion would be handy for the new powers. All the fluff is mine, as is most the new edges (some were tweaked), a new power and Bio-Sorcery.

Since I've given you a backwards presentation (leading with the history), I'll leave you with the tag-line:

"Space and Sorcery, exploration and adventure on the bones of ancient empires."

Comments and feedback are always welcome.

Thanks .... John P. Meyers

Edit - forgot to mention that this is a No Power Points setting. I suppose you could put power points into it, if you like . . .
Last edited by moonowl67 on Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#2 Postby Deskepticon » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:40 am

Clone Cocoon: someone's been watching Dark Matter. :wink:

Any reason the aquisition of cyberware, bioware, and robot upgrades also requires an Edge and not just the simple straight-up cost?

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#3 Postby moonowl67 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:43 pm

Deskepticon wrote:Clone Cocoon: someone's been watching Dark Matter. :wink:

Any reason the acquisition of cyberware, bioware, and robot upgrades also requires an Edge and not just the simple straight-up cost?


That's intended as an alternative way to for the character to pick up those enhancements. Rather than making the player wait to get raise the cash for his character, he can simply use an edge to get it, and then the GM and player work out a narrative for how it happened. I tend to run resource management fast-and-lose in my game; there's enough resource management in the game of real-life, and I don't find it very entertaining at all! ;-)

I did the same thing with Sorcery Spells, in reverse, though. Characters can acquire new spells 'in game' or the player can simply spend an advancement to give the new spell to their sorcerer. Only Sorcerer's have this ability, so I'm stickler for all the other constraints of that arcane background.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#4 Postby Deskepticon » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:13 pm

Ah, I didn't realize it was an alternative route. If the distinction was written down somewhere, I'm sorry, I must've missed it.

I tend to run resource management fast-and-lose in my game; there's enough resource management in the game of real-life, and I don't find it very entertaining at all!


Yeah. There was a recent topic here on Abstract Wealth that piqued my interest because I too hate resource management (I already use a simplified weight system). While it not appropriate for all settings, I might find a reason to use it somewhere, someday.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#5 Postby moonowl67 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:42 am

That's an excellent idea - I'll have to find an appropriate place to drop in the suggestion - perhaps in the Setting Rules section.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#6 Postby moonowl67 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:51 am

Deskepticon wrote:Clone Cocoon: someone's been watching Dark Matter. :wink:


'Great Series! Also, it's a convenient way for Security forces and Corporations to move muscle around quickly . . . but it has to be covert, given the distrust and antipathy towards Sorcerous items. I'd rule that a psychic (or other with the power) could use Detect Arcana to sense the clone. The fact that the whole being would stink of magic would be a clue that something is up.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#7 Postby SteelDraco » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:40 pm

You've played Fading Suns, correct? It's a similar setting concept, with the suns starting to go out and a mixture of fantasy and space opera tropes. The concept is that there was a huge Federation-like star empire which collapsed, reducing most people to a medieval level of tech and culture. There are Guilds, which still understand technology, but for the most part it's lower-tech for the common people. The Church helps with that as well, preaching that the fall of the star empire was a result of their faith in technology, rather than the Pancreator.

It's a super cool setting, and on the short list of games I'd like to run with Savage Worlds.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#8 Postby moonowl67 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:26 pm

I've never come across Fading Suns - it does sound very interesting and inside-out from Cold Suns. In my game, and this is hinted at in the write-up (might be developed further in an edit, perhaps), sorcery is blamed for the catastrophe that changed the galaxy. So, the cultures that carry a prejudice against sorcerer's may be a right! There's also a touch of Babylon 5 in the background, which is also related to the science vs magic tension.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#9 Postby moonowl67 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:42 am

Update; 'actually got to play-test the Weird Scientists and discovered a couple of things that help them to make sense, mechanically:

Added this to the Weird Science section:

Maintaining Powers: Weird Science Devices and Powers imbued upon characters using Weird Science do not incur the usual penalty to casting rolls for the use of other powers.

Added this to the Bio-Sorcery Section, to differentiate them from High technology and move them closer to Sorcery. (The balance is that Sorcerers can learn and use powers from documents, and attempt powers of greater Rank than themselves, while Bio-Sorcerers don't suffer from maintaining powers)

Backlash: Whenever a Bio-Sorcery trait test is failed, the character is Shaken. Whenever a Critical Failure is rolled, that character must roll on the Psychosis table, using the same adjustments as for Sorcerer Backlash.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#10 Postby moonowl67 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:47 am

Version 3 has a couple of new edges and the Creekwater Research Institute - an homage to a player character in my previous Savage Greyhawk Campaign. Eliminated the blurb about various conflicts - that's for you to design!

One of my players asked to have his prior half-orc devil-worshiper stumbling with redemption become an evil demi-god. The first ancient enchanted artifact in the campaign was a platinum statuette of that character; it had driven another salvage team to madness and canabalism. Second artifact was a massive door inscribed with runes and symbols that it took not only the salvage cargo lift, but some assist from the ship's thrusters to pull off . . . it was the Elder Sign that had locked him away.

So far, as of episode 2, they have heard the thunder as the seal lifted off the pyramid (on a planet with trace atmosphere), and encountered skeletal orc warriors (known as Barg in this galaxy). It was great fun having blasters and psionic TK bolts flashing in the frozen air of the ancient stone corridors. One character learned that Flechettes are not very good against armored skeletons .... they have survived, so far . . . they go deeper into the pyramid next episode. For those of you who are interested, I'm actually running the The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, with some significant changes: the site was taken over by the Half-Orc devil worshiper turned devil prince, and the sun was changed into a black hole. A couple of millennia later, Oerth is encased in ice and the atmosphere has collapsed. The pyramid lies exposed at the bottom of a mile deep canyon.

Anyway, Creekwater (enigmatic CEO of CRI, above) was once the half-orc's friend, wants nothing to do with him, and probably helped seal him away on the dead world. He will likely eventually hear of the greedy adventurer's meddling in affairs that they don't understand . . .

I didn't have room for this backstory in the Cold Suns write up. Should I add it somewhere? My goal was to craft a setting that incorporated my favorite concepts and mechanics, and just enough "Place" in the setting for you to launch your own histories and stories. Dropping in my own seems to run counter to that idea . . . I don't generally like to run other people's plot-point campaigns, myself.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#11 Postby moonowl67 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:49 am

I'm not sure if this creates too powerful characters, but I changed the backlash from Psionics and Mysticism to gaining 1 point of fatigue; I've always had a hard time imagining damage coming from attempting your extraordinary abilities; in fiction, that usually happens when you succeed. However, I can easily imagine somebody over-straining an effort . . .

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#12 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:06 am

moonowl67 wrote:I'm not sure if this creates too powerful characters, but I changed the backlash from Psionics and Mysticism to gaining 1 point of fatigue;

Don't worry. Switching to Fatigue is actually a decrease in character power, not an increase.
You can Soak damage. You can re-roll a Trait roll to avoid Fatigue, but you can't stop taking that Fatigue once the roll has been failed. Therefore Fatigue is harder to prevent than Wounds.
Fatigue penalties are harder to mitigate, since no core rules ability reduces those penalties. Wound penalties can be mitigated by the Nerves of Steel Edges, the Liquid Courage Edge, and the Construct, Elemental, or Undead qualities.
Wound penalties stack with Fatigue penalties, quickly crippling characters.
Fatigue has a shorter track than Wounds (for Wild Cards), completely Incapacitating a character once they get to three levels from any source.
Different kinds of Fatigue stack. Hunger, thirst, disease, extreme temperatures, bumps & bruises, and poisons can all be threats that will stack with this casting backlash to limit the psychics and mystics to the point that attempting to use their powers can be fatal.
The upsides? Succor can remove a level of Fatigue with a successful casting roll as an action (viable mid-combat, and -0 due to low power cost). Fatigue usually naturally heals faster than Wounds; but only usually, since each source of Fatigue has a unique recovery rate.

Aside:
moonowl67 wrote:However, I can easily imagine somebody over-straining an effort . . .

Never "pulled a muscle" when working too hard? You didn't actually pull that piece of flesh, you tore it; recovery is waiting for the tissues to grow back together. Kind of like waiting for tissue to grow back together after splitting one's scalp with a brick. That second example of torn tissue would generally be modeled in the game with a Damage roll, so I wonder why you don't want to model the first example with torn tissue.
When a person is channeling magical energies through their body, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that it can go horribly, burning-ly wrong, just like channeling electricity through a body can be safe or fatally dangerous.
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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#13 Postby moonowl67 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:58 pm

Thank you for the insights, ValhallaGH.

Having the fatigue be a stronger penalty was exactly the effect I going going for. Critical Failures don't come up very often at the table, so making them bite is perfect. (Although one PC did die when he Crit Failed his casting roll, and the damage die exploded, and he had no bennies, then he failed his bleeding out . . . that's a pretty big bite.) Also, trying to heal yourself with succor is a tricky, since you still suffer that -1 from fatigue. The players have learned the value of redundant healers/healing methods . . .

I guess I've intuitively seen the onerous nature of Fatigue in the system: I've been using it sparingly against the players . . . people get inured against challenges if they come up too often.

I know what you mean by being damaged with magic going awry. It's probably a bit late to come up with a mechanic for it, for my game anyway, but I'd like to see those moments captured in a game, when the OA or Eleven have the nose bleeds BECAUSE the power worked. Some might say that Palpatine's Scarring was the result of a critical failure, but the Force Lightning was still working! However, good story doesn't always make for good gaming, and allowing a spell to work despite a failure would be too powerful of an 'out' for the game to keep fun. Heck, I've already taken power points out of the equation . . .

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#14 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:02 pm

moonowl67 wrote:Critical Failures don't come up very often at the table, so making them bite is perfect.

Who said anything about Critical Failures?
If you're using the No Power Points rule then they'll be taking Fatigue every time they roll a 1 on their arcane skill die. That should be between 1 in 6 to 1 in 12 castings. You can expect it to come up about twice a battle and six or more times per session.
"Got a problem? I've got the solution: Rocket Launcher."
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"... We're all gonna die."

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#15 Postby moonowl67 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:11 pm

ValhallaGH wrote:
moonowl67 wrote:Critical Failures don't come up very often at the table, so making them bite is perfect.

Who said anything about Critical Failures?
If you're using the No Power Points rule then they'll be taking Fatigue every time they roll a 1 on their arcane skill die. That should be between 1 in 6 to 1 in 12 castings. You can expect it to come up about twice a battle and six or more times per session.


Oh Snap! I've been running with No Power Points for a while and completely forgot about that! I've gone and re-worded the Arcane backgrounds to include that 'core' rule.

Thanks again!

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#16 Postby moonowl67 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:25 pm

Intuitively, one might think that the 1 on a casting die, regardless of the wild die result increases the chance of failure. However, I'm inclined to rule that, if the wild die succeeds, the power does go off naturally, AND the character suffers the backlash.

That's just the sort of chaos I like in my games. Any thoughts on that? or was that the original intent?

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#17 Postby Deskepticon » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:16 pm

moonowl67 wrote:Intuitively, one might think that the 1 on a casting die, regardless of the wild die result increases the chance of failure. However, I'm inclined to rule that, if the wild die succeeds, the power does go off naturally, AND the character suffers the backlash.

That's just the sort of chaos I like in my games. Any thoughts on that? or was that the original intent?


That is the intent.
If the Wild Die is successful but the arcane skill comes up natch 1 then the spell works normally and the character suffers Backlash.

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#18 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:49 pm

moonowl67 wrote:Intuitively, one might think that the 1 on a casting die, regardless of the wild die result increases the chance of failure. However, I'm inclined to rule that, if the wild die succeeds, the power does go off naturally, AND the character suffers the backlash.

That's just the sort of chaos I like in my games. Any thoughts on that? or was that the original intent?

That's how the rules normally work when using Power Points. I've found it pretty enjoyable.
However, No Power Points states:
If a caster rolls a 1 on the arcane skill die when using one of his powers it automatically fails and he suffers 2d6 damage.

So, it fails regardless of the Wild Die.
You can do things differently, if you want to. That's cool. Just be prepared for some unexpected side effects.
"Got a problem? I've got the solution: Rocket Launcher."
"Not against a Servitor."
"... We're all gonna die."

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#19 Postby moonowl67 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:23 am

Adding the stipulation "if the casting die is a 1, regardless of the wild die" increases the risk of using powers, and would have been a little clearer. It's that economy of words issue with the rules. An example of play would have gone a long way . . .

Magic is risky.

I do like the idea of an occasional success but at a cost . . . or you can try to benny out of it. Sounds like a fun way to play. Besides, the added power that comes from not having to track power points is somewhat balanced by the risk of fatigue or psychosis.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Re: Home-Brew Setting: Cold Suns (Sci Fi & Fantasy Mashup)

#20 Postby moonowl67 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:20 am

How's this for a setting rule?

Pushing It: When a character with an arcane background rolls a success on his 'casting die', he may voluntarily immediately suffer the Backlash for his Arcane Background to turn the success into a raise. For opposed rolls, this adds +4 to the roll, instead.


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