Teaser: Latest Fiction Project

Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy.

Figured I’d try this on you guys, see if you liked it.

Prologue: to Conjure Destiny

Ragnarok. Twilight of the Gods.

Whom the Gods destroy they first make mad… but when Gods purpose their own annihilation, what lunacy preludes that ruin? What malefic visions bring forth gibbering deicide?

Ragnarok… The end of all things.

It was an end, yes. But not final. A conclusion, not a consummation.

The savagery raged for days, no realm spared as celestials expended their very essence, destroying themselves to harness the primal energies needed to murder their kind. Their fury sent doom crashing across the three worlds like great waves of the deep. The heavens rent, the earth scorched, the underworld shattered… terror, woe, and havoc. Continents heaved, oceans boiled, stars exploded… for when gods make war, who can escape?

Time, space, day, night lost all meaning. We huddled and hid and dared not pray. All turned to rubble and ash – an utter desecration.

And then one day, the gods were dead.

Ragnarok ended.

And we who survived blinked in horror at what remained – that we remained – and called ourselves cursed. Remnants of Men, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, scattered across the blighted landscape, fated to still draw breath, forced to sift meaning from desolation.

Minor powers remain, few, feral and precarious, their minds overthrown by pain and loss and dismay at the hells they helped unleash. On themselves. On us.
We shun them.

Ragnarok… The word twines from two roots, their true meaning: ‘to conjure destiny’.

The Gods abandoned us, took their capricious favor, their lofty scorn to whatever afterlife Gods go to. If there is such a place.

The only destiny that remains is what we conjure from the remains.


One: All the time in this ruined world
Year Three after the Grim Fall

Pain and more pain.

Lanced his ribs with every step, with every ragged breath pluming in the frigid air, Addas stumbled through the chaos of snow swirling in the bleak half-light. Warmth drooled down his belly, under his shirt.

He slid-skidded into a clump of scraggly bushes, glanced where his hand pressed against his chest. The horn had scored a long gash clean through the armor rings and hide jerkin. Blood seeped between his thick fingers.

God-cursed fecker near gored me. Add another scar to the batch, he grimaced. If I live.

He had smelt it an eye blink before he heard pounding hoofs. Twisted aside, just barely. Damn thing still bashed the air out of his lungs, sprawled him down the hill. Last he saw was the ass-end vanishing in the gloom.

Addas steadied his breathing. He peered through the bush, desiccated branches rattling in the wind like finger bones. View had dropped to a stone’s throw – maybe less. The beast had vanished. But not gone. Bastard was still out there, stalking him. He could feel its hunger.

The storm had hunkered down to stay; ugly, low and leaden. Bitter winds howled out of the north, bringing the cold that froze boiling water in the pot and a frenzy of large flakes the color of ash that burned skin raw. Dumping a foot in less than an hour, the landscape was disappearing fast. Only a few ragged humps of brush and black boulders jutted out of the icy slop.

Addas cocked his head, listened under the roar of the storm. Nothing.

He jerked his hand away from the wound, hissed as the chill bit exposed flesh. Ignore it, Chalk’s usual advice rang in his head. Bleeding ain’t important now – living is.

Easy for you to say, Addas muttered. You ain’t here.

The old knob used to beat the piss out of him. Three years day, night, rain, shine, blistering summer, freezing winter, Chalk took him scavenging. Learned him tricks, traps, tracks, snares, every skill a tracker needed. He’d cuff Addas at the tiniest mistake, bellowing, “World’s hard now. Get that in yer skull. You needs be harder.” Warty brute had been grueling, relentless. Those lessons had started the scar collection, everyone a jagged little revelation. Everyone a reminder of what was gone and what was now.

Still, Chalk had been his savior – if there was such a thing nowadays – the only one willing to take him in, half breeds being bucket scum even before the Grim Fall. Most of the other refugees from those days were in the dirt, so there must have been something to the cunning old fecker’s brand of schooling.

Addas’ bloody hand gripped the stumpy handle of the heavy cleaver sheathed at his side, the other hand clenched the shaft of his javelin. It was the good one with the iron head. Pitted and rust-scabbed, it still held a wicked edge.

Squinting into the gale, Addas froze still as a stone. He counted thirty heartbeats then reared up. “Come on then,” he roared. “Here I am.”

Good’un, he heard Chalk snigger. Charging the likes of you means it’s starvin’. So control the brawl. Make the ‘ungry bugger come to you.

Twenty more heartbeats. Nothing.

Then, snow scrunched, slithered on his right.

Addas shifted toward the sound, the javelin suddenly twig-thin across his meaty palm. Three fingers to steady, thumb and pointer to aim, like Chalk had taught. Coiled like a spring, he sniffed the wind ever so delicate.

Air was flat, sharp, hard as iron, but a sick-sweet hint of mange spiced the back of his throat. Skin rot on the beast’s coat.

“Oh, you want me, doncha? You royal fecker,” he murmured. Addas slow-stepped forward, half out of the bush, and planted his boots deep and firm.

“Come then,” he hissed.

At those words, a dark shape heaved out of the roiling squall like an avalanche, head down, long horn straight as a pike, fixed to skewer him like a hunk of meat.

Heart in his mouth, storm in his ears, time sludged, stretched like tar; a whole day in a heartbeat. Addas suddenly saw everything chiseled, separate and new; each flake of snow, the twine wrap on the shaft under his fingers, the muscles rippling on the wax-white mass, the snort of fog from its nostrils. That spike tip was mere feet away, but Addas had all the time in this ruined world.

He drove the javelin and pivoted in the same moment, saw the iron head sunk deep in the beast’s chest as it blew past, heard its scream of pain and frustration. Another dozen steps, the front legs folded and it dropped like a sack of rocks, furrowing the snow out into the gloom.

Addas whipped out the cleaver. Crouched. Waited.

Over the wind, he heard it thrash and grunt, raging against Addas, against the blizzard, against death. The cries grew steadily weaker, and he crept toward it, heavy broad blade raised over his shoulder.

He found it fifty paces on, kicking its life out. The javelin wobbled and twitched in its chest like a dowsing rod, snow darkening to a bloody mush underneath. It rolled its eyes, jerking its long head trying to stab him even as it wheezed its last.

That’s how ya live another day, Chalk cackled in his head.

The reek of offal churned in the wind as its bowels let go. Addas watched the creature shudder, slump and go still. A gust blew the stringy mane over one staring eye. It was gaunt, ribbed as a washboard, but there was still some meat to it. Better yet, the horn on its forehead. It was scored and dirty, but unbroken. Addas, hefted the cleaver. He’d drag it back for eats, but that was his.

Rare and valuable thing, unicorn horn. Piece plate armor, it would.

Addas Dashag, hunter, tracker, rover, scavenger and half-breed from the Black Sands Orc clan put his boot on the unicorn’s chest and yanked his javelin out. He wiped it clean, inspected it for bends or cracks. Satisfied, he strapped it on his back then he set to hacking the skull to get at the root of that lovely horn.

Desolation Alley. Post-Apoc slugfest

Pulp Alley in the Post-Apocalypse!

Waiting on cyberpunk city terrain pieces, we ran Pulp Alley through it’s paces at an abandoned military base somewhere inside the North American Exclusion Zone. A Zone Exploration and Recovery Team (ZERT) got its collective head handed to it by a group of scavengers and mutants. ZERT’s effort at being all tactical and sneaky-devious tripped over it’s own boots when Krazy Ivan’s Filthy Few barreled right in. The situation dissolved into a vulgar brawl, with the massive Mongo blocking shots with those concrete blocks then pummeling everything he could see.

TERRAIN, OBJECTIVES, OPPONENTS

Unnamed military base
Unnamed military base

Cache behind the guard hut.
Cache behind the guard hut.
Supplies outside the Admin building
Supplies outside the Admin building
Main Objective: documents with location of underground bunker
Main Objective: documents with location of underground bunker
Communications Relay behind barracks
Communications Relay behind barracks
Supplies outside Maintenance Bay
Supplies outside Maintenance Bay
ZERT 2. ( you can guess what happened to ZERT 1)
ZERT 2. ( you can guess what happened to ZERT 1)
Krazy Ivan, his BFF Mongo, and some Zone low-lifes
Krazy Ivan, his BFF Mongo, and some Zone low-lifes

TURN ONE AND TWO

The center road way open as a shooting gallery, both forces hug cover and advance on left and right flanks.

Hope no one sees me!
Hope no one sees me!
The Marked One and ZERT soldier take cover behind barracks
The Marked One and ZERT soldier take cover behind barracks
ExoSuit  and Trooper at the Maintenance Bay.
ExoSuit and Trooper at the Maintenance Bay.
Scavs snatch up minor plot point behind guard hut
Scavs snatch up minor plot point behind guard hut
Scav fumbles at second minor objective
Scav fumbles at second minor objective
Covering Fire!
Covering Fire!
Dumpster diving
Dumpster diving

TURN THREE AND FOUR

Contact! Nasty fights erupt around the Comms Relay as Scavs rush forward.

Uh-Oh, here comes Mongo.
Uh-Oh, here comes Mongo.
Exo Suit fumbles with minor objective while trooper engages scavs
Exo Suit fumbles with minor objective while trooper engages scavs
Krazy Ivan and one of the Filthy Few back up Mongo
Krazy Ivan and one of the Filthy Few back up Mongo
so how's that 'being all sneaky' thing working out?
so how’s that ‘being all sneaky’ thing working out?
ZERT trooper's unbelievable save against Mongo's pummeling
ZERT trooper’s unbelievable save against Mongo’s pummeling
Withering firefight. ZERT soldiers dropping like flies.
Withering firefight. ZERT soldiers dropping like flies.

TURN FIVE AND SIX

It’s all over but the crying. Reeling, the ZERT crew can’t recover and goes down. The Marked One is the sole survivor. (could it be any other way?)

Fighting intensifies on ZERT's left.
Fighting intensifies on ZERT’s left.
Krazy Ivan pops smoke to block LOS/LOF
Krazy Ivan pops smoke to block LOS/LOF
Mutant and ExoSuit go toe to toe. Mutant's power sledge crushes the armor like a tin can
Mutant and ExoSuit go toe to toe. Mutant’s power sledge crushes the armor like a tin can
Mongo rushes the Marked One, who shoots then bails - discretion being the better part of valor.
Mongo rushes the Marked One, who shoots then bails – discretion being the better part of valor.

The game did run an extra turn, the scavs wanting to take down the Marked One, but he stood firm and slipped away to fight another day.

***

CONCLUSION

We’ve been playing one-of games to get a firm grasp on PA’s mechanics. We need a few more, as we keep forgetting to play Fortune cards and minor stuff like that, but Pulp Alley still shines. Simultaneous combat and shifting initiative keeps both players engaged. The Plot Points (Objectives) focuses game play and tactics. It’s easy to tweak for genre-specific equipment/abilities (like the smoke grenades and power sledge) and robust enough to handle such minor modifications. End of the day? We’re enjoying it.

Wreck Age – Survival in a Post Apoc World.

Picked up the pdf of Wreck-Age from Wargames Vault the other day, and man, am I impressed. The folks at Hyacinth Games have invested an massive amount of time, thought and work in this and it shows.

Set in a harsh, unique Post-Apocalyptic America, Wreck-Age is one of those hybrid mutants: table top skirmish game and old fashioned Role Playing Game in one package. Most of these creatures are sterile, managing to fill neither roll well. But this… this is something different.

You can find details on the Wreck-Age Website, but simply put, you and your gaming group can introduce any amount of depth and detail you want, from simple table-top miniatures combat all the way to fully-detailed, multi-session RPG campaigns in a wide-open, well-conceived PA environment.

A read-through reveals gorgeous artwork, concise, sensible layout, elegant game mechanics, a distinct variety of player factions/options, traits and abilities, as well as streamlined (but not stupid) character and resource management. If you’re into Post-Apoc gaming and/or RPGs, I definitely think this will scratch that itch.

Personally, finding players around here willing to invest in a rich gaming world like this is going to be tough, but I’m going to canvas the usual suspects and see if I can’t get something started, because it would be well worth it.

Besides, it’ll give me an excuse to pick up some of the excellent figs.

Beware the Stitchmen

ADDITIONAL LINK: Facebook Page

Pix from STALKER games

Well that pic-swipe from another site didn’t work out. Sorry.

Here are some shots from STALKER-themed games.

If you’ve never played the STALKER PC games, I think you’re missing out. They’re slow burn, sandlot, RPG-type shooters set in Chernobyl. Moody, exotic, (in a barren, radiated sort of way) with loads of automatic weapons.

Lead Adventure makes the most appropriate figs, IMO.

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21May1