Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Last Point of Light: Science-Fantasy Mini-Campaign

I've been dragging ass a bit design inspiration-wise with the eponymous campaign of this here blog. One of the better burnout cures I have found is to throw some energy into an intentionally limited and decidedly different toned game. The Space Cantons and Wilderness crawl mini-campaigns, the TSR Conan and Boot Hill one-shots all were enjoyable diversions and I came out refocused on the center-stage efforts.

This time around I stepped backed and tried reviving a campaign seed idea that spawned one of the most feverishly imaginative contests I have had the pleasure of sponsoring here: the Point of Light/Last Bastion of Man. As my fair city was flooding yesterday, I drew up some notes for an AD&D/Mutant Future mash-up flavored/inspired by dollops of The Night Land, Moebius's Arzach (and Dune drawings), Blood Meridian, Kung Fu 2100, and the three love-children worlds of friends (that I have so greatly admired): Oriax, Uz and Krul.

Who remembers what brought our ruin in the end​? The troubles and tribulations, cataclysms and crises fell so thick in number those many centuries ago that forgetting and hiding became one of the higher arts of survival. What remains of human civilization is clustered in a high, narrow mountain basin roughly 90 square miles in area, a high, lost enclave harboring 15,000 souls.

About a third live in the ruins of a former great city. Life there, though a shadow of what came before, is highly refined with a tendency to rumination on the abstract and cerebral doctrines—and sensuous vices of the flesh. The rest of the valley is more rough and tumble, there the population holds on in semi-fortified villages dominated by wild religious rites.

Centuries of inwardness, fear, and the lasting effects of a great purge of remnant books and other intellectual artifacts have limited the bastion’s knowledge of the outside world to what can be surveyed from the surrounding peaks: jagged foothills, vine-choked forests, giant fungus groves, ash wastes, and the hints of a green-stoned cyclopean ruin that can only be Shining Yashabbla, the Ancient Capital of Man. Beyond the horizon lurks a vast wilderness haunted by bands of inhuman reaving bands and the truly monstrous.

Something has shifted in the valley in the last decade, the rulers of the land have finally opened up that last safety valve to keep their control of the last bastion: permission to explore beyond the peaks. The insane, the maladjusted, and restless dregs of the citizenry answer the call.

Chargen Steps
1.    Roll/Pick House and Race
2.    Roll 4d6 drop the lowest IN ORDER for attributes
3.    Pick Class. Take maximum hit points.
4.    Roll 3d6 for your “Social Rank”. This multiplied by 10 is your starting gold (called Domars).
5.    Buy stuff.

Starting House
From the most indolent noble to the basest toiler, all in the Valley claim descent from mythological hero-ancestors.  Over the centuries society has settled into a number of broad clan-castes around such claims (which are themselves sub-divided into internal prestige ranks).

Roll d10 or Pick
1          House of Drugan the Render of Bodies: Human +1 STR, +1 starting hp and free melee weapon
2          House of Kaimos the Starbird: Human +1 INT. Minor artifact of GM’s choice.
3          House of Cragon the Soul-Auger: Human +1 WIS. Speak with the Dead once a month.
4          House of Tathos the Deathstealer: Human +1 DEX. Reroll one roll once a session.
5          House of Reydan the Redhelm: Human +1 CON. +1 Social Rank and free helmet.
6          House of Guiking the Gilded: Human +1 CHA. +2 to Social Rank and Dogman servant.
7          House of Wozan the Clonemaster: Replicant see below
8          House of Xhom the Contumelious : Dwarf see below
9          House of Raztin the Ever-Faithful: Dogman see below
10        Servants of the Steel Spire: Human Mutant see below

“Pure” humans (all citizens carry some trace mutation) can be of any class.

Roll Class 1 positive mutation and one Class 1 drawback mutation from the Mazes and Mutants chart.  If Dwarfism is rolled, the mutant is automatically treated as a Dwarf as below. The drawback mutation is kept but a new positive mutation is rolled. They are restricted to the martial roles of fighting man, monk or ranger by their caste upbringing.

-1 STR, +1 DEX or INT. Can be fighters or specialists. Mechanically they enjoy the same advantages as the B/X Halfling. As a tinkering caste they gain a +10% bonus when learning or repairing artifacts.

+1 to any 2 attributes, -2 CHA
Replicants are easily recognized by the limited clone archetype population, and considered by most to be really creepy. Will often die inexplicably in five years. Cannot be a magic user or white wizard.

+1 STR or DEX, -1 INT
Can bite for 1d4 damage. Fighting man or ranger only.

No minimum attribute prereqs are required.

Fighting Man
No weapon, armor or artifact restrictions. Hit Dice 1d10

No armor but can use DEX bonus for AC, Control of Self power as per Empire of the Petal Throne at 1st level, +1 to hit with unarmed attacks. Cannot use projectile or energy ranged weapon.

Magic User
Can wear Fur armor and Otus helmet, able to use blackpowder weapons otherwise normal weapon restrictions. Spells require only mental concentration.

White Wizard
Called “Priest”, can wear Fur or Leather, +5% to figuring out artifacts, can use any ranged weapon.

Called “Marchwarden”, +1 to hit with any ranged weapon, cannot wear Ceramic Plate.

Called “Tinker”. As per Lamentations, restricted to leather and under armor but can use shield.

Swords and daggers cost three times as much due to the metal shortage. All other weapons with a metal component cost twice as much. Bone or stone can be substituted at normal listed cost but are -1 damage.

Firelance, one-shot gunpowder tube attached to spear, 1d8 damage, 20’ range, 15 domars

Blackpowder charge, 5 domars per shot

Flintlock, 1d10 damage with exploding dice on a natural “10”. 3 rounds to reload. 80 domars

War-Arquebus (flintlock carbine with handaxe or short sword attached to stock)  100 domars

Erol Otus helmet, 5 domars
Wooden Shield, 10 domars
Furs, AC 8, 5 domars
Leather, AC7, 15 domars
Lamellar, AC6, 30 domars
Synthetic Mesh, AC5, 150 domars
Ceramic Plate AC3, 600 domars

Riding Lizard, 75 domars
Pack Lizard, 60 domars
Work-Moose, 75 domars
Riding-Tarn, 450 domars
War-Tarn, 600 domars


  1. I love this set-up. The Houses and the Moebius drawing alone make me want to roll up a character and play!

  2. Marchwarden is a wonderful class name.