Wednesday 27 May 2015

What is Hellspace?

Or, why has there only been one blogpost in all of May?

Hellspace has sat on my back-burner under various names (Arkbound, DIE BONEHEAD DIE, Odd Future) for long enough. 

The Basics

The Godmachines are supercomputers that can see a little bit into the future and do what's best for humanity. They took us off Earth and onto the Ark.

All of our Technology is made by the Godmachines, so we don't really know how it works.

On the Ark we developed Ideologies from honour-obssed Arkbound and spaced-out Gazers to monstrous Saints and technophobic Boneheads. Despite such differences we mostly got along.

A century later we arrived in Hellspace, which is almost exactly what it sounds like. The Ark's engines stopped. 

Demons are simultaneously more alien and more human than we expected.

In Play

Your characters might look like this.
Nouveau: Tech-Enhanced Bodyguard (3), Server of the Unified Godmachines(2), Clean Freak (2)
Shroom: Chemical Stimulant Enthusiast (3), Vehicle Thief (2), Well Connected Low-Life (2). 
Lamprey: Slick Bonehead Trader (3), Gambling Addict (2), Alien Obsessed (2). 

Each thing after your name is a Tag. You can use these to do things you'd expect, as long as nobody's opposing you. Shroom can hotwire a shuttle, and Lamprey has contacts to sell to. 

Once there's opposition or risk it becomes a Challenge, and you roll a number of d6 equal to your score in that Tag. Take the single highest die.
1-3 is a Crisis and it all goes wrong and you'd better deal with it now. 
4-5 is a Mess, a sort of interesting partial-success. 
6 is a Success and you do it really well. 

No matter the result, you can't go back. Always moving forward. 

If you get hurt, note it down. If you get hurt again and you haven't fixed the last bit of hurt, anything goes when it comes to the consequences. 

But I love Into the Odd. Why not just use that? It has silly factions and aliens and guns too.

Because this game is going to do a few things I don't think fit well in Into the Odd
- Optimism for humanity. Despite vast ideological differences you're more likely to have to deal with people than kill or swindle them. The Ark has rough decks, but is mostly a triumph. 
- Religion at the forefront. Into the Odd has millions of little cults but they don't have something as tangible as the Godmachines to focus around. Hellspace also taps into a rich seam of ideas that I wouldn't put in Bastion or the Golden Lands. 
- At its core, Into the Odd is a game about exploration and problem solving. Hellspace is about choices and consequences. 
- Player Characters from Bastion are deliberately grounded in some normality. Hellspace has more scope for the sort of unusual characters I sometimes miss playing. 
- Weirdly, the aliens of Hellspace are less science-fictiony than those you might encounter in Into the Odd. 
- A less blank-slate setting, with key elements like the Godmachines, Aliens, and Ideologies more laid-out than the deliberate vagueness of Bastion and the Odd World. 
- I'm reluctant to bring up the OSR/Storygame (false?) dichotomy, but this is clearly a very different sort of game in its mechanics. 

Also, if you want a Sci Fi Into the Odd game, just use Into the Odd. 

Setting References
- Red Dwarf
- Sid Meir's Alpha Centauri
- Barlowe's Inferno
- Man After Man, Dougal Dixon
- Planescape

Visual References

Tuesday 12 May 2015

The Down-Spire

The star cults believe there are things in the cosmos, unfathomable power making them the only worthy gods. Their Arcana are coveted, but it is shallow power.

There's only one real power. One great force that we feel every day. It drives our every action. To accept him, and to love him, is the true choice.

Breath-Eater. Man-Choker. The Infinite.


Fear makes the heir stab the father.
The glutton fill his stomach.
The acolyte bow to the idol.
The mob band together, and scatter when the cannons arrive.
Fear makes your heart beat. Fear swallows the air from your lungs.
It can kill you, or give you another day of life.
There is no other power.

In its name we built the Down-Spire. Anyone that welcomes fear into their heart is welcome here. 

Entrance is a set of metal doors, rusted and ajar. Two Fear Seekers (6hp, WIL 15, Axe d6, Smart Clothes, Featureless Black Masks) greet any visitors quietly and present them with a Black Mask. Anyone refusing a mask is advised that they will not enjoy the optimum experience.

They tell you that if you collect three black coins from inside you'll become powerful beyond imagination (in actuality the black coins do nothing, but the Fear Seekers will give you a lecture on the power inside your heart if you present them).

The doors lead straight into The Stairwell which leads to each floor below. Each floor is a single circular room, 20ft in diameter, with metal walls and floors.

Excluding the Stairwell and The Fall, if the group ever return to a room they have already visited, they awaken a poltergeist-like force inside the room, that will act in a cleverly malevolent way, with the ultimate goal of killing the group. It can seize control of a being for a second or two unless they pass a WIL Save. The force cannot leave the room.

The Stairwell
Steep Spiral Stairs (Creaky, rusted)
Doors at each floor (see each room's entry for door description)
Intense Darkness (light is not as effective as normal)
Leads all the way down to The Fall (11).
Roll d6 each time you traverse the stairwell. On a 1 or 2, there is an Embodiment (15hp, STR 18, DEX 17, WIL 20, d10 Spike-Hands, Grey Shelled Body (Armour 1), Spindly Legs) in the darkness. It prefers to be above the group, and stays out of sight of groups. Will only strike lone individuals or groups in the darkness.

Deep 1
Squat Metal Door (Marked with a dot. Locks itself behind you once everyone is in. Clicks open if there's a loud enough noise, like a scream)
Low Ceiling (gets lower as you go further in)
Walls: Gas Lamps (giving off lots of heat, explosive)
Black Coin sat on a Pressure Plate (fake)
North: Red Button on the wall (fake)

Deep 2
Metal Door (marked with moon symbol)
Four Beds (one disturbed and warm, clean sheets, cannot be slept in by any means. There is a wooden box under each bed. 1: Neatly folded adult clothes. 2: Neatly folded adult clothes with a bottle of whiskey hidden inside. 3:Neatly folded adult clothes and a Black Mask . 4: Obviously fake wooden bones painted white, some chewing marks, damp with saliva)

Deep 3
Wooden Door (marked with heart symbol, some scratches in the wood, muffled conversation from within, cannot make out details, cannot be opened by any means, but can be smashed open. Upon return, the voices have gone.)
Howling Vortex (no sign of a room, draws anyone that fails a STR Save in, before spitting them out into The Fall (12). Fades into void once its point has been made)

Deep 4
Metal Door (marked with 0 symbol)
Silent Air (no sound can occur in here)
Mirror (no reflection other than things that belong in this room, if broken, darkness starts to creep in causing d6 WIL loss each turn of contact)
Desk (Gavel, empty papers spike)

Deep 5
Metal Door (marked with 1 symbol, slams shut after one person enters, and sealed until they leave)
Chute Down (metal ladder, dark, if you descend into the darkness, the light above you vanishes and you're trapped on an infinite climb. If you release yourself you plummet until you land in the depths of The Fall (11)

Deep 6
Metal Door (marked with a Y symbol)
North: Two Doors (Marked 0 and 1, leading to deep or respectively. Whichever door they don't choose is eradicated from existence both in this room and in the stairwell).

Deep 7
Metal Door (marked with infinity symbol)
Floor: Sea of Chains (various sizes and metals, slowly writhing, actually harmless and hiding a Black Coin underneath its surface)

Deep 8
Metal Door (marked with balance symbol)
Fear Seeker (kneeling in the middle of the room, sign around neck "guilty", will not speak)
East Wall: Black Musket (d8 damage, loaded, if fired at Fear Seeker it will not harm him, but will deposit a Black Coin)
West Wall: Painted Eye (appears to follow you, gestures to the musket and to the Fear Seeker, if you leave the Fear Seeker alive the Eye will appear on walls and haunt you until you finish the job)

Deep 9
Metal Door (marked with a crossed square symbol)
Spiked Walls (d8 damage if forced onto)
10ft Metal Cube (completely inert and pristine, fake black coin painted on the floor just behind)
Ceiling: Black Chain (pulling causes whirring noise, then a clunk as it resets, no other function)

Deep 10
Metal Door (completely black)
Darkness (no feeling of floor, but can be walked on, if you enter and close the door without a light source, the floor vanishes and you plunge into The Fall.

Deep 11: The Fall
Steep Spiral Stairs (continue infinitely, becoming steeper and rustier)
Intense Darkness (slowly overpowers any light source. Leaping into it will causes instant death if not wearing a mask. If wearing a mask, the wearer awakens in Room 3.