- Vain the Sword p.42
This is another class for ModronRPG’s BUCKETS OF BLOOD, along the lines of my Loser Assassin.
You used to work for the AGENCY, a poorly-defined and variously-named government organ with an inexplicable reach, an apparently unlimited budget, and a mission to violently suppress the supernatural.
But you’ve gone rogue, and taken your strange expertises and secret clearances with you.
Now flee, across America, because Uncle Sam is coming to Fuck you.
THE ROGUE MAN-IN-BLACK
+1 [REDACTED] Dice and +1 to Hit per Template.
Starting Items: Black suit, shades, 9mm handgun, earpiece, briefcase, $600, black oxfords.
Starting Skill: 1) Gaslighting 2) Finance 3) Impersonation 4) Forensics 5) Logistics 6) Driving
A - Operations, Intel, Dressed for the Job
B - Interrogator
C - Haze
D - E Pluribus Unum
You know Operations, which you can perform by rolling your [REDACTED] Dice.
You must have your earpiece, or another form of electronic audio communication, to perform Operations - you do so by speaking the Code Phrase into the receiver.
Operations can be targeted on:
Someone you can see.
Someone who answers the phone to you.
Each level, you learn two new Operations.
You may choose new Operations with a number equal to or less than [level * 3]
- i.e., <=3 at Level 1, <=6 at Level 2, and so on.
If your [REDACTED] Dice display doubles when casting, a Misadventure occurs, per the following table.
Brain Spike - Suffer 1d6 Damage and go blind for [dice] rounds.
Transaction - You must immediately pay $[dice]x100, or the Operation fails.
Heavy Metals - Your limbs are immovably heavy for [dice] rounds.
Paperwork Error - You can’t use the Operation you just performed for [dice] days.
Chemtrail - You give off grey smoke for [dice] rounds. It makes animals hostile.
Known Unknown - A [dice]HD Man-in-Black claiming to be your old partner shows up within 1d6 days, to try and tempt you back to the AGENCY. If you refuse, they try to kill you. The same MiB shows up every time you roll this Misadventure, even if you kill them.
Rolling Triples immediately reveals your position to the AGENCY, and keeps it revealed for [sum] hours - they will send your former colleagues and worse besides to come collect you.
Getting caught by the AGENCY, or going back willingly, is more or less a character death - even though, unfortunately, you won’t actually be dead.
When you get to this point in your AGENCY career, you usually get access to the files on Everything. It seems like the AGENCY is having trouble revoking your access.
With access to an electronic device with a speaker, you can learn [dice] facts about a person or creature you have met. The facts must concern:
The facts are spoken to you from the device.
Incidentally, you can now also read the words hidden below black [REDACTION] bars. Careful you don’t read anything you shouldn’t.
Dressed for the Job
You cannot use Operations unless you’re wearing a black suit and your eyes are obscured. Briefcase is optional.
When you ask a question, you always get an answer - people just can’t seem to keep quiet when you’re in their face.
If someone has recently been affected by one of your operations, they’ll also qualify or explain their answer, even to their detriment.
People are incapable of recalling your face or name if you’re not present, unless you wish them to.
E Pluribus Unum
“You’ve survived long enough. The Test is over, operative.”
This is all the communique says.
From here, you have two options:
Accept the AGENCY’s bullshit gaslighting and work for them once again, becoming a Cell Leader. You’re given command over 1d6+4 first level Men-in-Black, and a monthly budget of $50000.
Tell them to eat ass, and go Really Fucking Rogue. You’re now immune to mind control, and can fly (did we mention that gravity is a government conspiracy?). Incidentally, you can now dress however you damn well please.
List of Operations:
The Code Phrase is “Intensive Lobbying”.
Target receives [sum] threatening messages across the next [dice] days. They come from people in the street, by email, phone and letter. These can be as intense as you desire, and can caution for or against a specific course of action.
The Code Phrase is “Material Recompense”.
In [dice] days, at a location of your choosing, a container will fill with [dice * 2] slots of equipment and money. The AGENCY (DM) chooses what's in the case, based on what problems you might soon face. This can be used as a form of crude divination. $100 is worth 1 slot.
Each successive time in a week you use this Operation, there’s an x-in-6 chance of the AGENCY figuring out where you are, where x is the number of uses after the first.
The Code Phrase is “Pavement Artist”
A shadowy figure follows the target person for [sum] hours, reporting on their activities. It is invisible in darkness, and has [dice] HP. If reduced to 0HP, it explodes into driving licenses and chewed cheques.
The Code Phrase is “Making The Fucking Frogs Gay”.
Target liquid becomes rife with bioengineered diseases, heavy metals, and spiritual toxins, dealing [dice] damage to anyone who drinks it. Drinkers who fail a save also suffer from [sum] days of confusion and brain-fog.
The Code Phrase is “You’re Hallucinating”.
Target person loses their memory of the last [sum]+[dice] minutes in a white flash. Unwilling targets may save. You can also target this on an object, making everyone who’s seen it in the last [sum]+[dice] minutes forget it.
The Code Phrase is “We’re Having an H.R. Issue”.
[sum] 0HD Suits, who are literally faceless aside from their sunglasses, appear from behind closed doors, inside locked vehicles and around blind corners. They’re armed with 9mm pistols and burst apart into pulped $100 bills and glass shards if they take a single hit.
The Code Phrase is “Scheduled for Termination”
An incorporeal shadowy figure shoots the target in the back of the head with a silenced pistol. They take [sum]+[dice] damage, save for half.
The Code Phrase is “Scout’s Honour”
Target saves at a [-dice] penalty. If they fail, they lose all fear and inhibition, and, probably, start doing stupid shit. If something they later do is morally challenging, they may save again, once. They may also save again, once, if they are injured.
The Code Phrase is “Superlifter”
Up to [dice] creatures are flung forcefully upwards, rising exactly a mile in the air before coming to a halt (safely) in a large black Helicopter, which can fly for [sum] miles before setting down and collapsing into a mass of water damaged tax forms and passports. Unwilling creatures may save.
If there is something hard enough to stop the ascent between the targets and the Helicopter, they take [sum]+[dice] damage.
The Code Phrase is “Do You Get That?”
Choose a phrase of [sum] or less words. When the target next hears that phrase, they must save, or be under your control for [dice * 2] rounds.
The Code Phrase is “Matter of National Security”
For the next [sum] hours, you can choose to see out of any camera in [dice] miles - even if they’re depowered or disconnected. You do not need to be aware of the cameras’ specific locations to use them.
The Code Phrase is “Foreign Policy Advisor”
Target [dice] creatures. They become ASSETS. There is no save.
Whenever you are about to use an Operation, you can use it as if you’re standing where your ASSET is, no range limit. You can always target your ASSET, whoever they see, and whoever they talk to on the phone.
If you became a Cell Leader at Template D, you can expend 4 [R]D to possess one of your assets, turning them into a controllable clone of you for [sum] hours, if they fail a save.
If you went Really Fucking Rogue at Template D, your ASSETS benefit from your HAZE ability.
FIRMAMENT is a setting idea, based entirely off the wild sheet of A4 paper shown below. I made it while feeling ill at some point last year. Just rediscovered it, and thought I should… clarify it, I suppose.
So what is FIRMAMENT?
It’s the name of the setting, hope that clears it up.
A disk, ringed by mountains, in the centre of which stands a very big and very holy mountain. Five rivers originate from the central mountain, each of which travel to the edge of the disk and plummet off in vast waterfalls.
Each river, and each Fall, is significant to the myth of one the Five Knights, heroic figures of some six centuries ago, who served, and then rebelled. They each received various mythologised fates, usually linked to the ancient structures at each Fall.
Upon the crown of the central mountain stands the holy city of Irgavio Sol, wherein sits the immortal and extremely magical SUN KING, who rules the World Above with a fiery golden hand. He is whom the Knights rebelled against.
His laws are draconian, ever-changing and enforced by violence. Life in the World Above has become a life of constant terror. Literacy is suppressed, worship of the Sun King is expected. His soldiers and seekers and signatories are omnipresent where his rule is strong.
He has, for 1557 years, been the uncontested master of the world. He keeps his power through three primary mechanisms:
One, constant propaganda produced by the Solar Chantry, his political apparatus based in Irgavio Sol.
Two, complete control over the Five Rivers - he can cut their flow as he desires, and bring the suffering of thirst to those in the Outer Kingdom.
Three, his Charters, contracts of terrible import written in gold, which convey rights and powers to his subjects. The most infamous are the Charter of the Eye (which gives your sight to the Sun King), and the Charter of the Hand (which surrenders your free will to him), but many hundreds of Minor Charters exist.
Of course, rebellion and insurrection against the Sun King have been a constant feature of history - but there has never been a rebellion of serious magnitude.
Well, until recently, anyway.
There are seven Provinces of the Outer Kingdom, and three are in rebellion. They call this the War of Hubris, or perhaps the War of Regicide.
THE OUTER KINGDOM
The parts of the World Above which aren’t the Sun King’s direct domain. The technology here is 1600s-ish: black-powder, sail-ships, and so on. Printing presses exist but are either strictly controlled or banned.
On the King’s side of the ongoing War, the Loyalists:
The Barony of Zzargod, a dictatorship under a line of “Sacred Arcanists”, who claim direct descent from Viradon, the Knight. They aren’t actually Sacred anythings - their magic is Scribe magic, which is banned everywhere, but they can use it because they’re collaborators. They control the Fall at which stands Viradon’s False Tower, the Knight’s fatal work of magical hubris.
The Grand Duchy of Draad, a massive plutocracy best known for soldiers and violence. The real powerhouse of the loyalist side. From border to border, it’s all fields. The forests were cleared long ago. The Grand Duke is elected by those with property - and property is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. Their capital lies by the foot of Sar Isad, the Pale Tower, a sealed structure of apparent but unknown significance to Sun King.
The Heptarchy of Magnos, where normally illegal spellcasters can find sanctuary, so long as they submit to the rule of the Heptarchs, seven callous, long-lived scholars who are, allegedly, human. Magnos itself is a wild and forested land, mostly made up of walled cities around the inland "Sea" of Vir.
The Duchy of Saral Sar, front line of the War. A land of blasted rocky wastes and narrow green valleys. Their Duke is a frothing militarist, increasingly unstable and megalomaniacal. Their lands are covered in bizarre and gigantic ruins.
And, against the King, the Regicides:
The Republic of Arumell. Previously the Viceroyalty of Arumell, which drew prestige and power from controlling Sar Arum, the Onyx Tower. A callous law passed, a poet sent to hang, and a spark of sudden violence - and after that, the Viceroy went under the Guillotine, the Republic was established, and the War began. They have torn open the seals on Sar Arum, and waste blood and lives exploring it.
The Duchy of Defiance, until recently the Duchy of Serias. The old Duke was preparing for war against Arumell, so his daughter threw a Coup, had him killed, and renamed the Duchy to Defiance, joining the war on Arumell’s side. Share the Serian Sea with Draad, where piracy and naval combat are increasingly rampant.
The Kelkora Remnant - last fragment of the ancient Kelkoran Empire, who warred in opposition to the Sun King a millennium ago. Always ungovernable, their land is mountainous and wild. Their support in the war was a certainty.
THE WORLD BELOW
Below the disk, there’s an infinite world of hellish wilderness, wind demons, eyeless giants, demonic brain-eating hounds, and other horrid shit.
Here, there’s the ruins of unblessed civilizations, terrific and awe-inspiring dangers of an older, more horrendous world. Here, star-things and beasts cavort and plot to eat the vulnerable, innocent souls of all the blessed subjects of the Sun King.
Or at least, that’s what the Solar Chantry say. They’re probably exaggerating. But it mustn’t be paradise, because if it was, they wouldn’t send exiles there.
The Sun King is “merciful”, you see. There’s a death sentence, but it’s never carried out. It is always commuted to EXILE.
This is where you come in: You’re playing exiles.
Maybe you fought in the War of Regicide, maybe you used illegal magic, maybe you learned how to read (a very serious crime). Maybe you were involved in a seditious cabal, made immoral art after a warning, practiced the wrong religion, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Whatever the case, you begin the game, chained in a row at The Gates of Amphiteir, with the flaming gaze of the Chartered Eyes on you.
You were brought to the island which lies before the Gates by ship, from somewhere in Draad, or from Irgavio Sol itself. You’re not the first to follow this path to doom, not by a longshot, and unless the Sun King falls, you shan’t be the last.
You’re then flung from the waterfall, to plummet to the Lake of the Banished far below. If by chance you do survive (which you do, since you’re about to be playing in an RPG campaign), you’ll have washed up in the World Below.
What are you to do? Survive, first, but perhaps, later - you will explore, grow in power, and return above.
I hear you, voices which eternally torment me - who gives a shit about all this setting garbage, what are the CLASSES?
These are all gonna be classis, i.e. a Class with x number of relatively light Archetypes pinned on. The main name is the Class, the sub-names are the Archetypes.
Astrologer - They open their thoughts to the sublime powers of the Firmament - the mortal mind is a minor price to pay for absolute cosmic power.
Star - The Princes of Creation.
Moon - Work with Lies.
Sun - And Stolen Fires.
Void - In Darkness Absolute.
Signatory - Each of the Solar Guilds benefits from a Minor Charter, which are not personally signed (like the Eye and Hand), but provide members of that organisation with magic. The Charters can never be revoked, which means Exile is the only way to deal with a rebellious Signatory.
Craft Charter - Magically empowered Artisans with rebellious limbs.
Stone Charter - Builders with great but unreliable strength.
Blood Charter - Alchemists with a limited time left on this world.
Hound Charter - Once explorers of the World Below, but now turned to finding the rebellious. To be an exiled Seeker is to have received a taste of your own medicine.
Lots of other Minor Charters - They number in the hundreds, after all.
Knight - Would-be heroes recently outlawed by the Sun King - each Order was founded by (or claims to be founded by) one of the Five Knights of old.
Of Coins - Founded by Kind Vassari. Mercenaries with gold-powered magic. Enjoy a mixed reputation.
Of Flames - Founded by Sunblind Amphiteir. Knights-errant who wield flaming blades.
Of Winds - Founded by Saeraath the Exile. Benefit from her greatest work, the Taming of the Winds.
Of the Tower - Founded by Viradon the Arrogant. Utilise his hubristic arcana, derived from the False Tower he built.
Of Masks - Founded by the Nameless Knight. Distrusted by their fellows for their unsettling powers.
Scribe - Their magic, which uses esoteric languages and strange symbols, is of varying levels of illegality under the reign of the Sun King. Each kind of Scribe is successively more illegal - their crimes are described:
Iron Scribe - Blades and Armour. Their magic is legal, but most are criminals.
Dream Scribe - Fog and Sleep. Influence insensate minds.
Skull Scribe - Pain and Bones. Perform Necromancy.
Law Scribe - Steles and Boundaries. Usurp Royal Authority.
Tome Scribe - Books and Alchemy. Teach literacy.
Thief - Cheating bastards and all-round pricks. The only fools brave enough to go into this world with no MD at all.
I’m going back and forth on the presence of mundane, non-Knight fighters, but if they do exist, they’re gonna be Zouaves with appropriately themed Tall Tales.
You can’t play Chartered Hands or Chartered Eyes, because they’re fascists.
Incidentally, in this setting, there’s no Dragons, or Undead, because they feel overused.
That A4 sheet really is wild isn’t it.
This was my immediate reaction, despite making the damn thing.