Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vrilwar: Factions

A note: Vrilwar effectively takes place somewhere in 1943 or 1944. Up until then, the actual path of the war has roughly matched that of reality, with one exception: Thanks to the work of Saito Harima, Japan is able to begin a full-scale invasion of China some two years earlier and by 1940 has seized much of the nation's manufacturing capability intact. This leads to them playing a larger role in World War II, starting with an attack on Pearl Harbor that is not a raid but a succesful invasion.

Vrilwar has 5 "factions" to play as- Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the US. Each faction's strengths and weaknesses are largely based on those found in reality. Other nations' forces fall under one of these 5 factions (largely Britain and Germany) rather than warranting their own group.

Britain: Before the start of World War II, the success of the tank concept in World War I had limited the development of mechs for the United Kingdom and her European allies; many of their designs proved to be unreliable, awkward or downright flimsy in actual combat. On the other hand, Britain's infantry forces are excellent and wield numerous innovative anti-mech weapons, and their tanks are among the best found on the battlefield (for what it's worth).

Britain's two most successful designs are both four-legged walkers; mobile "big gun" cannons that can deploy in relatively little time, and light multi-purpose Universal Carriers. On the whole their mech designs vary much more than those of the other factions.

Germany: It can’t quite match the production capabilities and firepower of many of the other nations, but Germany's mechs are reliable and their crews experienced. Like in reality, the nation emphasizes a combined-arms doctrine and has capable forces of all types; the three areas in which they outdo all others are mechanized infantry, coordination and overall mobility, allowing them to take down foes who are better armed and armored through superior tactical employment of their own forces. Germany also has the feared √úbergrenadiers; think the soldiers from Jin-Roh, except that continual exposure to vril since childhood has made them into 7-foot-tall behemoths who can outrun an unencumbered normal human, even if their minds are less sharp as a result.

Thematically, Germany fields mechs of all kinds, though their medium humanoid models are some of the most prevalent. Their mechs have angular armor plating and thick, blocky limbs, making it difficult to get an effective hit in; their heavy models usually have low centers of gravity. Though German mech pilots are held in high regard, some have a penchant for hot-blooded overconfidence.

Japan: Although outdone by the US with regards to firepower, Japan fields numerous cost-effective humanoid mecha of all sorts, and has turned their freshly-conquered regions of China into a formidable war machine. The diversity and effectiveness of their humanoid mech forces stems in large part from their use of transforming multi-function models; unlike other nations, these designs have moved out of the experimental phase and into full production.

Japanese mechs tend to have thin, rounded limbs approaching human proportions. Most of their mechs have unmatched maneuverability for their class, although relatively light armor means that when the enemy does get a clear shot they often crumple under a few hits.

Russia: The USSR's military might is in no small part thanks to their effective multi-legged walkers, which usually feature insect or animal-like designs. Some of the most feared models include the fast-moving "Mantis" with its bladed forelimbs and the gargantuan"Centipede Walker", which can arch its front sections up to fire its front cannon from a height of 4 stories.

However, Russia is often forced to fall back on a "quantity over quality" approach, with poor training and shoddy equipment plaguing the rest of its forces. No other faction can match the motherland in terms of sheer numbers, which can often overwhelm better-equipped enemy forces.

Unites States: Only towards the end of the 1930s did America begin serious mech development; considering their lack of background experience, the military's engineers are to be commended for producing several effective designs. Although their equipment is the most advanced, much of the higher-end material is still in the test phase and may prove unreliable on the field of battle.

US mechs are among the most expensive and heavily armed; they tend to favor two-legged nonhumanoid walkers, walking weapons platforms designed to accommodate several attachments. Their mechs are noted for remaining functional in the face of heavy damages.

Read all

The 7th Circle: Outline

It may be inaccurate to call the 7th Circle a D&D Variant and/or a campaign setting, but that will do for now. The project takes its name from the benevolent transuniversal organization which the PCs work for. You play as a member of an interloper team- professional adventurers who can come from almost any sort of setting or genre, and have had the opportunity to train (and equip) themselves in any other. Cyberpunk, bronze age sword & sorcery, lovecraftian horror- all of these are perfectly acceptable backgrounds to base a character around. An interloper team's greatest asset is the diverse array of experiences and abilities to be found in its members.

The concept for the setting was designed hand-in-hand with concept for the rules, which are intended for more experienced players. The short description is d20 Modern/D&D gestalt. A longer version is that at each level you choose a d20 modern class and a D&D class, then take the best from both (including all class features, so long as they are not identical.) The end result is a system with impressive flexibility; you can actually start with a detailed fluff concept and then still work within those lines to produce a statistically optimized character. If you have no background experience with d20 modern and/or the gestalt variant, that's perfectly acceptable; a decent amount of experience with D&D is enough to make the learning curve quite gentle. I'll be offering more info on character creation and details of the setting in the days to come.

Read all

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vrilwar: The history

Vrilwar is the name for an alternate history wargame/rpg, the basic premise of which is WWII with mechs instead of tanks. This isn't my original project, but remains a group effort involving the /tg/ section of 4chan (think of it as a cool, breezy section of hell with lots of decent people to talk to). A fairly complete (albeit poorly organized) collection of the work done so far can be found at the project's wiki; what I post here I will also upload there as appropriate. The key to this alternate history is a liquid known as Vril.

If the All-German Society for Metaphysics is to believed, then the formula for Vril's creation was uncovered by one of their archeological expeditions in 1924. The society's leaders, who named the liquid after a fictional fluid from the popular 1870 novel The Coming Race, believed it was the key to the return of the Aryan master race. They used the fluid to curry favor with the rich and famous, waxing eloquent on its potential as a cure-all that left you ten times healthier than before you got sick. After swelling in terms of stature and influence for the better part of a year, the society split apart and several high-ranking members sold the formula to the highest bidders-several suspicious accidents that occurred during this time have led many to suspect international espionage played a part in maintaining the formula's secrecy.

By the end of 1925, several governments were conducting scientific studies on the effects of the mysterious liquid. Only in the September of 1926 did a German researcher by the name of Ingo Burkhard consider whether Vril might have mechanical applications; sure enough, the extremely low compressibility of the liquid made it an ideal hydraulic fluid, and he also discovered that low-grade electrical currents could cause the liquid to expand while under heavy pressure.

Meanwhile, the roaring twenties drew to a close and Vril was becoming a hot topic among the upper classes. The secretive nature of its creation and its association with the subject of eugenics only lent to its mystique; Vril-based medicines were in high demand. A French entrepreneur by the name of Nicolas Beafort gave up his life savings to acquire a large reserve of the fluid and then made it back tenfold selling "Vin de Vril", cheap wine mixed with a small dose of the fluid. It was an overnight sensation, hailed as the rich man's coffee and a drink that gave you the strength to laugh off a hangover the next morning.

The intense curiosity over Vril's effects on humans never ceased to overshadow Ingo Burkhard's research. His theories for a vril-based vehicle with hydraulic legs might never have been realized were it not for the correspondence he struck up with American inventor Henry Ford. The two men shared a passion for mechanics and a disdain for the greed that drove most Vril-based research at the time. When Ingo died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1928, Ford felt moved to make his friend's vision into a reality and developed several functioning prototypes over the next few years together with his son Edsel. The great depression greatly reduced the walker's already-uncertain prospects as a profitable civilian vehicle; Edsel decided to market the vehicle as a urged his father to focus more on offroad capability and the ability to handle large loads.

On April 20, 1933, in leiu of his usual 50,000 Riechsmark gift, Henry Ford sent Der Fuhrer the first fully functional mechanized walker, which became known by the designation "M33" by the Germans, and "the toddler" by the Allies. The well-made machine would form the basis of Germany's advancements in the realm of mechs for years to come.

The Toddler would enter mass production the November of that year; by then Ford's rivals were already racing to develop models of their own. However, by that point Ishikawa-Harima Heavy Industries in Japan had already created a working mech that was not only the first two-legged model but the first humanoid one as well. The remarkable achievement was thanks to Saito Harima, grandchild of Mitsubishi founder Yataro Iwasaki. Though he was only nineteen at the time, the genius savant's designs would prove a great boon to Japan's military strength in the ongoing war with China and beyond.

Read all

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mission Statement

First off, I'm lazy.

Second, I love to be productive. In this case, I specifically like to produce works of creative writing and traditional game-related material (pen and paper roleplaying, mostly, but also board games and similar affairs).

Needless to say, these two traits often clash. I find that I have too many ideas that I have done far too little about. I need to get in the habit of working, period. That's where this blog comes in.

So, the mission statement: For every 24 hours that this blog exists, there will be a new post with content. This content could be fluff, crunch, or just a piece of writing unrelated to any gaming endeavor. It could very well be crap, though I'll endeavor to make sure I provide at least half a page of said crap. If I fall behind, priority #1 is to maintain the daily upload rate but I will catch up until there's been one post for each day. If I know I'll be cut off from the blog for a time it'll be my responsibility to build up an adequate buffer- ideally I'll have one going at all times. These are the rules I'm setting out for myself. This isn't going to be a blog about me, unless personal revelations turn out to be an effective motivational tool. I doubt it.

As for you, the hypothetical reader: If there is one thing I crave, it's constructive feedback. This is an open invitation, one that I can't emphasize enough- PLEASE tell me what you like and don't like, what you want to see more of and what you could do without, what I could do to improve my work. Positive or negative, odds are I'll be clinging gratefully to your every word.

So, let's give this a try. Over the next few days my plan is to introduce the basics of my two biggest ongoing projects- Vrilwar and The 7th Circle. Hopefully you'll hear more from me soon.

Read all