Monday, July 2, 2012

HMS Apolloyon - 20 Questions

My idea of running a giant haunted passenger liner of science fantasy regressed to low, zeppelin free, steam-punk as a Google + game is coming together.

Here's how I am thinking of doing it.

Kelp Zombie? From 'The Rift' - 1990
Time: Some weekday around 7:00 PST, likely Monday or Thursday.

Characters: Standard “Flail Snails” conventions, you can bring anyone in from anywhere as the fishing crews of the HMS Apollyon are constantly pulling people up out of the eldritch seas. All your character needs do is take a sea voyage that goes badly... Right now the oceans around the Apollyon are especially active, and the Stewards and 1st Class of Stern-town are taking advantage, trying to use this influx of man/strange creature power to reclaim and refortify lost areas – right now they are looking towards regaining the nearby forges, so that the town will have more industrial capacity.

The other option would be to roll up a local via the tables nesting tables I'll put up sometime soonish. It should be noted that there are only four races, human, flying monkey, tainted (exiled 1st class), and frogling, though more friendly races may become available if players discover them.

Rules: I will be using Labyrinth Lord Rules, as I am familiar with them, there are a few bits of additional rule – I will be adopting something like the LOTFP Specialist rules for “Thieves” - Assassins, Pack-handlers(Rangers of sorts) and a similar system of military proficiencies for fighting types. Firearms will be available up to the breach loading rifle (though cartridges are dear and expensive) and will use exploding damage.

Below I have filled out a Jeff Reints “20 Questions” because I hear it's a cool thing to do.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion? 
There are many religions aboard the Apollyon, most brought aboard by flotsom, and the various gods all seem to answers their followers. Like their priests, few of these religions survive long, though there are a few transplanted sects deep in the warrens of the crew quarters. Indigenous faithful worship the Queen, the Ship Spirits, Apollyon the Final or the Great Leviathan (among the froglings and fisherfolk) all of whom grant their followers influence over the material world.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment? There's shops in Rustgate (your new home) where scavengers can buy equipment, better deals and better quality merchandise can be found on the 2nd class promenade, the Scavengers' Souk or even Frogtown though one has to earn permission to leave the Rustgate deck first. The Stewards' PX offers the best quality of proofed and standardized armor, but its prices are high and a scavenger must be in very good standing to buy there.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? That shouldn't actually be too hard, the many armorers of the 2nd class promenade should be able to make bronze or steel plate in almost any configuration. The craftsmanship will run you at least 500 gold pieces, but more importantly how will you be supplying 40lbs plus of armor grade steel or bronze? – it's hard to come by. Also what's you new beastly friend going to wear during the 3-10 weeks making a suit of plate will take.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? They say the High Sustantivo of the Fishmen is not to be triffled with, but given that he's a Nyarlahotep tainted, flesh eating, demon beast it's hard to see the Sustantivo providing anything but the most lethal of demonstrations of his skill.
Old Francois in frogtown is rumored to be quiet the conjurer as well and he's a few generations old so there might be something to that and no one has ever beaten Buss Wugg in elemental summoning. Certainly there are also many thaumaturges amongst the passenger class, but they never let anyone know how powerful they are being haughty and disdaining interaction with any of the non-passenger castes (Also perhaps afraid to reveal their skills to rivals or the other-planer horrors they have truck with).

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land? Again, within the hull there are rumors and secrets. Many suggest that the Champion of the Blackgang, Valve Wiper Sthalmensch was unstoppable when he and his expeditionary force made the trek from the Soot Fortress amidship and stemmed the unstoppable undead incursion from steerage forty years ago, but his whereabouts are unknown now. The Major of the Marines is also a great warrior, though the Marines have refused to fight in past years and he hasn't been seen outside Fort Defeat in a decade.

6. Who is the richest person in the land? The entire 1st Class is rich beyond imagining, though their wealth is dwarfed by the valuables lost within the hull. Of the Passenger magnates wealth fluctuates depending on success of expeditions and business ventures but Phineas Collwing and his brother Euriah Collwing have held the top spot for much of the past ten years.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing? 
Some say the infirmary surgeons can work magic with archo-tech, but the cost is ruinous even to the wealthy. Your best bet are the frogling witches and shamans down in frog town, though regular infirmary care will work for most injuries.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? The same as above but except for common diseases and poisons the froglings are very good. Rumor has it that abandoned medical bays within the hull hold greater cures, but that's quite a risk to take on a rumor.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? No, not unless you're born to a magus in the passenger caste – they sometimes trade spells and have some kind of drinking club. The frogling shamans may sell a cantrip or two, but the best hope is to research your own magic or steal it.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Chemists and expert craftsman can be contracted on the Promenade, but sages and historians are rarer. A few of the passenger caste study the history of the ship, but they don't work for pay.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries? The Rustgate is full of desperate flotsom fished from the sea. Froglings and underdeck crew are also often willing to sell their muscle.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? On the passenger decks only passengers and stewards may carry weapons, you won't be able to get out of the elevator with them however, so it's a moot point. In the crew decks carrying weapons is legal, but may draw the attention of Stewards who do what they like generally, including handing out theft, extortion and beatings to those they deem “dangerously antisocial” - such as those with the audacity to carry visible weapons outside their 'proper deck'. You won't be allowed out of the Rustgate until you've proven your worth and loyalty so it's generally unlikely the Stewards will trouble you for a crime committed - or alleged -  there.  They are likely to simply rob and beat you without an excuse however.  Active law courts exist for the Passanger class and higher ranking crew.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern? Taverns are everywhere, the Rustgate sports dozens catering to a scavenger's every want. Most serve algae beer brewed on premises and frogling aquavit.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? No one will know what you've killed out there, it's what treasures and supplies that you return with that will win fame. Suffice to say were you to kill a steerage ghoul boss (plague king), Fishman Nyarlahotep spawn, hunter killer automaton, the Kraken or some other legendary beast people might buy you a round or two.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? You've already been enlisted – there's been a war to reclaim the Apollyon for hundreds maybe thousands of years.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Underdeck has it's share of man-baiting pits, and prizes for pit fighters can be decent. However, bare knuckle fighting a cray dog pack is not for the unskilled.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Rumors of societies that wish to overthrow the passenger caste and Stewards abound. Occasional sweeps by the Stewards always seem to catch a few wreckers to execute, but no one society has appeared since the 2nd class passenger caste was dissolved forcibly. The marines are viewed by some as a secret society, but they are few, mostly old and whatever their agenda is, it seems directed outward towards reclaiming more of the ship.

18. What is there to eat around here? Algae loaf, kelp, meat rat, rat, meat dog, fish, barnacles, crab, shellfish, giant prawns, giant pigeon, and a scattering of fruit and grains for the wealthy. Many of these items can even be made into passable and delicious fare and there's plenty of variety - it's just supply that's short.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? The whole hull is full of lost caches of archo-tech and alien magic. There are machine shops to plunder, vaults, food stores, and 1st class lounges. Nothing special comes to mind that is legendary in an of itself – though the dowager Empress of New Lusitania was aboard and she brought her jewel collection which has never been accounted for, including the “Star of Carcosa” an enormous Sapphire with rumored magical powers. Some also claim that an ancient mummy in a gold plated sarcophagus was shipped with the Apollyon, but the cargo holds are mostly flooded now.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? Dragons, nobody knows anything about dragons – there's a Kraken somewhere and it's rumored to like shiny things. As for 600,000 gold pieces laying about – there was a bank in the forecastle, though it's likely been looted long ago. The cargo holds beneath the flooded steerage decks, swarming with undead, also contain fabulous wealth.


  1. Sounds kickass. I'm out of town next week, so I'm out unfortunately.

    1. Oh I don't think I'll be running it for a while - I get my other projects squared first and do some mapping/rule fiddling/world building.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Jayson, if you're on G+ I'll add you so you can know if I ever get around to running it and can join in.

  3. This is the business! Hope you won't mind my saying that it's the China Miéville/Lovecraft/Snow-piercer mashup we've all been waiting for! Unfortunately, I could probably never play due to time difference, but please do add me back on G+ if you would; I'd love to keep up with all this cool connect you're pouring out there

    1. If you are interested in the G+ game don't just ad me, add the games own page (+HMS APOLLYON) for updates.