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[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 18-12-2009 21:27:41


With Ben's permission, the following is intended for the people who game on wednesday evenings.

Spirit of the Century is a fairly light and easy game designed for "pickup roleplaying." Meaning, it's made for short adventures that can be done within one night. As such I hereby propose a resurrection of the Iron Kingdoms, to be played with SotC, and run by yours truly whenever the regularly scheduled session can't go on for some reason or another. (There is no risk of this game 'hijacking' the regular D&D game, as SotC wasn't designed robust enough to be played steadfastly every week for a full campaign. But it's still fun, and this combination makes it ideal for a backup game.)

SotC is a pulp action game. Gone are the dungeon crawls and miniatures; this is a high-octane game of fisticuffs atop out-of-control trains, mad scientists and their death rays, giant steam robots versus zombie hordes, suave card sharks who could swindle Thamar herself, and mystical curses from faraway lands. Suggested movies to watch are the Indiana Jones movies, The Mummy, or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

The basics are easy and I'll explain them here.

Characters consist of three elements. There are skills, which are pretty much what you'd expect them to be. Then there are stunts, which are special upgrades of skills. They spell the difference between a regular police detective and Sherlock Holmes. Stunts allow you to use your skills better, faster, more reliable, or in entirely new ways. They might even give you possession of special things, like a lair or minions. And finally there are aspects, which are freely chosen elements that collectively paint a picture of what's essential about a character. They can be connections, traits, catchphrases, descriptors, or nearly anything else.

That's it.

No alignments. No wisdom score. No equipment list. Just those three things.

System Basics

Skills are rated on a scale of -2 to +8. Difficulties are rated on a similar scale. SotC uses four dice, which can come up as either -1, 0, or +1. This dice result is then added to the skill rating, and the total has to meet or beat the difficulty. Generally speaking your roll will as high as your skill rating is, but it can be up to 4 points higher or lower.

Example: James Borlog is in over his head and is chased by an angry husband. He sprints across the garden and comes at a wall, which he'll try to climb. The wall is high and intended to keep burglars out, so the GM rates it as fairly difficult to climb (a total of +2 is needed). Borlog has an Athletics skill of +3, so even if the dice come up -1 total he'll still make it.

What about them aspects?

Players start every session with something called fate points. These are spent to use aspects, or invoke them as the terminology calls it. Invoking an aspect can either allow you to reroll the dice, or it gives a +2 bonus. Multiple aspects can be used for each roll, although a given aspect can be used only once per roll.

Example: Borlog rolls poorly and gets -2, for a total of +1. He sighs and spends a fate point, looking over his list of aspects. He chooses Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valor and asks the GM if that suffices. It does, and Borlog can raise his result to +3. Nimbly he scampers up the wall and disappears into the night.

What if I run out of fate points?

Before I answer that, I must point out something else.

You can also use aspects of other people against them. If young master Borlog knows somebody else has Devout Morrowan as an aspect, he could disguise himself as a priest and use that aspect to grant himself a bonus on various social rolls. He still has to spend a fate point of his own of course. (Not that James would ever stoop so low as to take advantage of another man's faith, mind you.)

This can also be done against players. From small bonuses to your enemy, to entire subplots, your aspects can make things harder on you. This is known as compelling an aspect, when the GM offers to make you live in interesting times due to one of your own aspects. Either you can accept a fate point and the trouble it brings with it, or you can spend a fate point of your own to suppress your own aspect and negate the compel.

And this is the secret of aspect points. Don't pick stuff like "Always Wins" or "Strong." Besides being dreadfully boring, they're not going to earn you any fate points. The best aspects are interesting and a double-edged sword, because the more trouble they bring you, the more equipped you become to handle it! So when in doubt, always choose "Sworn Enemy Of Cryx" over things like "Quick."

Can you give some example aspects?

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - MaszaH - 19-12-2009 01:44:41

oeeeeeeeh me likesses it..... me likesses it lots... Grin

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 19-12-2009 13:36:58

More Rules You Should Know About

Fate Points can be spent to make a Minor Declaration. This allows a player some minor control over the game by adjusting the situation. Of course you can't declare an enemy just drops dead of a heart attack, but you could declare that you just happen to be carrying a pocket watch. Full with little springs and gears that you might be able to put to better use...

Aspects can be Invoked For Effect. This is similar to a declaration, but more powerful. You still can't wish people to death, but it might turn out that your Fraternal Order Of Wizardry aspect can come in use. They just happen to have a local chapter in this city! You're in a small town instead? Well, maybe a respected wizard happens to have a summer house by the lake.

Aspects aren't unique to people. Zones and scenarios can also posses them, which people can Tag. Shadowy alleys probably have a Dark aspect that makes it easier for you to hide in. (The exact wording doesn't matter. If the alley actually had Poor Lighting while you tried to tag Dark instead, it still works.)

Aspects can be Assessed. Not every aspect is plain to see, except through this method. It involves a roll with the most relevant skill to perceive it, and the one who did so even gets a free tag which must be used in the same scene.

Example Wrote:Rosa Cross is on the prowl. There is a nasty gang enforcer who broke one leg too many, and she means to cripple him for life. He stays at an inn that serves as a minor stronghold for his gang, so going through the front entrance wouldn't be the best option. She studies the place and rolls her Burglary skill at a difficulty set by the GM. The latter knows the cook leaves every day at the same time to buy supplies. One successful roll later, and Rosa knows it too. She now has a Daily Routine aspect figured out which she might use to slip into the empty kitchen. A free tag which will be good for a +2 bonus on a Stealth roll to get the drop on that mean old enforcer.

Casing the joint pays off!

Of course sometimes there never was an aspect to begin with, usually because the GM didn't consider it ahead of time. Does that mean the players are out of luck? No! It's possible for aspects to be Declared by players as well. This works similarly to assessment, although it's usually a little harder to pull off.

Example Wrote:Prof. Fairgrey and her consorts are on a sweltering tropical island, trying to evade an exotic and absurdly lethal variety of tatzylwurm. Eventually she reaches her goal: the hidden volcano base of a rival mad scientist. They are spotted and now must face an enormous war-titan, five stories tall and built from dozens of steamjacks. The professor is useless in a physical confrontation, but she knows all about technology. She rolls an Engineering skill and declares there to be an Exposed Wiring aspect on the titan. The GM sets the difficulty high because he wants the titan to be rugged, but her roll is great; he now must accept the declaration. With a victorious shriek she points out the weakness in their opponent and orders her minions to attack. Brianna, wishing she wouldn't be referred to as a minion, charges forward and makes use of that free tag on the titan. Combined with her The Gravedigger and Plot-Breaking Sword aspects, it should be enough for a devastating blow.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 19-12-2009 19:16:13

Sounds like fun Smile

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 21-12-2009 20:26:27

The setting

Pretty much Iron Kingdoms, except advanced forward a little bit in time. The Great War is over and the human nations face outward rather than inward; they explore, colonize, and exploit new lands at a rapid pace in a fight for global dominance and control over vast untapped fields of natural resources. Technology has put the final nail in the coffins of archery and military sailing vessels, replacing them with firearms and ironclad steamboats. Newspapers are a common thing and new railroad routes are criss-crossing the continent. Rockets and grenades are becoming common armaments, and national borders are keenly watched by zeppelins.

Magic works entirely differently in this iteration of the Iron Kingdoms, as it's not beholden to the D&D assumptions. Arcane magic is entirely a thing of science: it makes turbines whir and steamjacks walk, but it can't make people fly or stop time. Proper wizards can do some unusual things, but not to the extent of D&D's magic. The only people who can approach such extravagant results are warcasters, and they need costly warcaster armor to do it. Divine magic is similarly subdued, with miracles taking subtle form rather than obvious alterations of the world.

Character Creation

First thing's first: SotC characters aren't farm boys who pick up their grandfather's sword and start to learn fighting even as the adventure begins. They're not even highly talented teenagers. They are established presences within the game world already at the peak of their abilities (the default rules don't support "leveling up"). They are decorated war heroes, plucky reporters who have uncovered conspiracies within the highest echelons of the military, brazen explorers who charted dozens of islands, mystics who wield the secret arts of a faraway land, or masked avengers who strike terror into the hearts of the wicked.

Creation itself consists of five phases for background and aspects, with two aspects earned per phase. After that skills and stunts are picked.

Phase 1 is normal background, from birth to young teenager. What were your younger years like? How were you raised? What sort of traits are inherent to you as a person?

Phase 2 is the Great War. Did you serve? For whom? Did you instead perform some kind of job? Or were you not even in Western Immoren to begin with?

Phase 3 is your Novel. Come up with a good pulpy title and write a short paragraph that describes the basic plot of a grand adventure you've already had.

Phase 4 is your Guest Starring. You randomly receive the novel of another player and add a sentence or two to the description, detailing how you also feature in their adventure and what you did.

Phase 5 is another Guest Starring, but from a different player.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 21-12-2009 20:47:53

Character Creation Example

There are dozens of exciting concepts possible, but for the sake of this example we'll use a familiar character: Professor Mayberry E. Fairgrey.

Phase 1: Background

Mayberry was born in a respectable family, her father being a prominent member of the Fraternal Order. She was born an albino and from a young age displayed an... unusual mentality. A prodigy in the fields of mathematics and physics, her father decided to teach her some minor magic and found to his surprise that her talent may exceed his own. When she continually spurned the advances of men and took her arcane studies to a level no amateur should, she left her parental home.

Now for some aspects. "Intelligent" is accurate but boring, so we'll take "Mad Genius" instead. It can provide the same benefits but is much more fun. Being an albino is not a particularly exciting aspect, but "Black Sheep" is. A gay female wizard who has rejected very eligible gentlemen is sure to build up a bad reputation!

Phase 2: The War

The professor was involved in the rescue of a certain city, but that's something better left to a novel. And since others were involved as well it's not even very good for that. However, she did help set up a branch of special forces codenamed Foxfire that had the responsibility of disrupting enemy infrastructure as much as possible. It has since been disbanded for suspected war crimes.

Being involved in infiltration missions she doubtlessly had to lie a lot. Maybe her intellect helped out there, viewing human interaction more as a mental challenge rather than true social interaction. So we'll take an aspect called "I Love These Puzzles!" That should help in figuring all sorts of things out, but any minor mysteries might also distract her from her true goals. Also, working with the Cygnaran military means using a lot of lightning-related gizmos. We'll give her a fondness for electrocuting things with "Ride The Lightning."

Phase 3: The Novel

After a bit of thinking we have the following:

Mayberry versus the Infernal Brain! Wrote:A fellow scientist approaches the professor with an impossible device, but before she can study it the scientist is kidnapped and the device stolen! Together with her friend Brianna, she chases the culprits across the continent. But why does the church want to see the two ladies dead? And where did the device come from? All will be revealed in the shocking conclusion, as the professor must match wits with a demon... or lose her soul forever!

For her first aspect we take "Save Me Brianna!" and for the second "A Life Of Sin."

Phase 4: Guest Starring

We're randomly dealt another novel and read what it says.

Rosa Cross and the Pirate Kings! Wrote:Under her alter ego as the Red Knight, Rosa Cross cleans up Five Fingers. From dark alleys to the storm-tossed murky sea, she must face the five Pirate Kings and take their signet rings to discover the identity of the mysterious Grand Pirate King. But the answer may be one she is unprepared for! Can justice win from love? How will she find a ship that can sail underneath the water? And can she escape the clutches of the dreaded kraken?


After a bit of thought, we add the following:

Also featuring Professor Fairgrey, who assists the Red Knight by forging her a new weapon and taking her aboard the experimental Magnetic Corsair! Can she hold together a failing ship that's sinking into the crushing abyss?

From this we take "Grace Under Pressure" and "Gearhead."

Phase 5: Another Guest Star

Another random novel. This one reads:

Merrick Garrisson in... Crisis of Faith! Wrote:Garrisson is ordered deep into Protectorate territory to retrieve a relic long thought lost. Can he make his race against the clock before the Menites discover his true purpose? With a legion of enemy paladins to face, he is forced into an uneasy alliance with a sultry Thamarite seductress. Will he be forced to break his word before she can plunge a knife in his back? Or can he trust her desire to repent be true? But can the faith of men withstand the onslaught of Cryx?

Meanwhile, Rosa Cross is hot on the trail of a notorious assassin! With steel and guile she must hunt a man who wields flame and the holy Word!

And then we add to that:

The priests of Cyriss have shown an interest in this affair as well, and chose an unlikely champion: Mayberry Fairgrey. She lures the paladin into a deathtrap which spells certain doom, unless Garrisson can convince the insane scientist to trust her heart!

And two more aspects, "My Trusty Wrench" and "Just As Planned."


Characters get one skill rated as Superb (+5), two as Great (+4), three as Good (+3), four as Fair (+2), and five as Average (+1).

We pick the following skills from the list:

Science +5
Engineering +4
Mysteries +4
Academics +3
Deceit +3
Investigation +3
Contacting +2
Empathy +2
Resources +2
Resolve +2
Alertness +1
Guns +1
Intimidation +1
Leadership +1
Stealth +1


We get to pick five stunts, which we'll use for the following.

Engineering: Miss Fix-It, which allows her to repair things in much shorter time than usual.
Science: Scientific Genius, which allows her to specialize in a special field (in this case, lightning-tech) where her skill is greater than usual.
Science: Theory in Practice, which allows her to spend a fate point to substitute the science skill for any other skill as long as she can justify it. Why push things with strength if you can use the principle of a lever?
Science: Weird Science, which allows her to design and use mechanikal devices rather than just normal ones.
Science: Mad Science, which lets her construct devices even beyond modern 21st century technology, as long as they all follow a common theme (again, lightning-tech in her case).

The End

And that's it. Her character sheet will look a little something like this.

Mayberry Elizabeth Fairgrey Wrote:Aspects:
Mad Genius
Black Sheep
"I Love These Puzzles!"
Ride The Lightning
"Save Me Brianna!"
A Life Of Sin
Grace Under Pressure
My Trusty Wrench
Just As Planned

Science +5 (Scientific Genius, Theory In Practice, Weird Science, Mad Science)
Engineering +4 (Miss Fix-It)
Mysteries +4
Academics +3
Deceit +3
Investigation +3
Contacting +2
Empathy +2
Resources +2
Resolve +2
Alertness +1
Guns +1
Intimidation +1
Leadership +1
Stealth +1

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 25-12-2009 15:37:32

Well people, I'd say start thinking of some kind of hero you'd like to play in the Iron Kingdoms. Character creation can be done entirely over this forum, or at least most of it. Get those creative juices flowing to come up with something good (or at the very least, dapper)!

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - nar - 26-12-2009 12:04:12

my juices're flowing...and now the couch is wet. huh.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 26-12-2009 13:30:11

I'm wondering.. should I go oldschool, or go for something completely new? ^_^

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 31-12-2009 14:33:49

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[SotC] Return of the Warjack - nar - 01-01-2010 13:14:37

i freaking love that guitar! Grin

the other stuff's pretty sweet too Smile

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 07-01-2010 16:17:49

Right. Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

Who's your character going to be? A familiar face, all grown up? Somebody entirely new? Just a name and a couple of sentences can be enough.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 07-01-2010 16:30:04

What amount of in-game time has past since the last IK session? 15 years? 30?

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - nar - 07-01-2010 17:00:45

i'm gonna be someone new Smile

his name will incorporate "Pewter Marmot".

his name might be "Pewter Marmot". Grin

i think that "Pewter Marmot" is a young-ish man from Khador who may have seen too much in his short-ish life.

that's all i've got for now.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 07-01-2010 17:37:48

The Longest Night took place on the last day of 602 AR (After Rebellion) and the first of 603 AR.

The Great War between the various nations, sparked by Khador's invasion of Llael, began in the year 605 AR. It lasted officially until 616 AR, although by 614 no human nation made open warfare upon another. Rather, they temporarily set aside their differences to face the threat posed by Skorne, the Circle of Orboros, Cryx, troll hordes and other enemies.

Llael is mostly independent again, although a significant portion was ceded over to Khador.
Khador is larger and better prepared than ever before. Most people consider it only a matter of time before they start another Great War.
Cygnar's technology is now without a doubt the best in the world. Storm Chambers have all but replaced accumulators in its armies, and it's the first nation in the world that's currently setting up a third armed division besides the army and navy: an air force.
The Protectorate never signed a peace treaty but rather a truce. Nevertheless, they no longer pose any threat. Or do they?

And from all sides, mankind finds itself challenged as they expands outwards to claim the globe. Cryx to the south, Skorne to the east, barbaric hordes to the north. And always on their mind the prospect of finding the Orgoth homelands...

The current day is 622 AR, in other words it's been 17 years since we last saw the Kingdoms.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 08-01-2010 12:46:01

Hmm.. a 46 yr old Garrisson?
a 40 yr old Emily Caine?
maybe a 48 yr old Alister Caine?

Or something completely new? Neutral

Maybe something with 'Lead Chipmunk' in it...

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - voh - 08-01-2010 13:22:38

Man, totally unrelatedly jacking this thread, but that last steampunk chick... Man, that brings back memories Grin

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - MaszaH - 08-01-2010 14:06:38

she did remind me of noortje alright Wink

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 08-01-2010 14:07:55

Is t r niet gewoon dan? Tongue

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - voh - 08-01-2010 15:45:25

Afgezien van die ene tussen d'r ogen, en eentje minder in d'r lip, iig dezelfde piercings Tongue

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - JLT* - 09-01-2010 14:36:38

18 yr old Fenrick Garrisson?

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - nar - 10-01-2010 22:27:22

would y'all be interested in giving this a try this week and next week?

next week certainly, because that weekend i will not be able to prepare anything.

this week because i'd like some more time to get stuff done, and i'm curious to see
a) what this game's like and
b) if we're going to want to have it as a back-up

any takers?

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - SageGenesis - 10-01-2010 22:59:50

At the moment I can't really say, as I have no characters to do anything with. Even for a "pickup" game it would still help if I knew a little bit about the people I'm working with.

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - MaszaH - 11-01-2010 10:06:24

I'm sorry to say that I have worked on the character but there is no way that I will have it done by wednesday. I have way to much homework to do, it's deadline time. so if you guys are going to play it will have to be without me for now.

cancelling wednesday's sessions for now would actually give me a bit more time so I'm happy with that Wink. deadlines should mostly be over in 2 weeks time so yeeeey

[SotC] Return of the Warjack - nar - 11-01-2010 10:27:02

ah, so you're saying that regardless of the game, you're out for wednesday? (just for clarity's sake)

i can try and get more done on the Pewter Marmot...maybe we can use (a part of) wednesday evening to round out the PC's? or do they need to be fully formed before we can play?