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Friday, November 16, 2012

MysTek Artifacts

Now for the post you really weren't waiting for, but should have been ('cause this is the cool stuff):

Mystical Technology Artifacts!

Nobody knows how the Ancients created these Artifacts, or how they work, or how they seem to evolve and unlock new abilities over time as it's user gains experience.  That's a secret that may forever remain in the past.  But really, most people could care less about that stuff.

What are Artifacts?

These items, which have strange angular lines etched along and around, have unique magic circuits.  Unlike the circuits that normal creatures possess, these seem to be ambiguous, and not hard-coded.  It's possible to alter and change how these magic circuits behave and do.  In fact, one can add extra abilities to Artifacts, with the right materials and tools (which have only been found in the Ancient Ruins) and skills.

Often times, most Artifacts have a core ability, one that cannot be changed entirely.  A fire sword Artifact will always be a fire sword.  However, if it has an extra ability to, say, shoot fire balls, or something, this feature could be changed to be a fire shield instead, if you had the tools and know-how.  You could even go so far to add a transformation ability so it become a fire gun, but such Artifacts capable of this are few and far between.  So far, only the Mage's Association has this knowledge, and they guard it fiercely.

Who can use Artifacts?

Thankfully, anyone can.  You just have to be able to use Mana.  That's it.

What kind of Artifacts exist?

The most common ones fall into one of three categories: Offensive, Defensive, and Utility.  Offensive Artifacts come in weapon varieties, like guns or swords.  They inflict damage, as one would assume.  Some even allow the user to take control of Ancient Golems (these are dubbed 'Director Artifacts').  Defensive ones usually appear to be belts, bracers, or pendants, and grant protection - either from damage, or secondary effects (like heat or cold).  Utility Artifacts are the most common, and often do things that normal items shouldn't be able to, like greater storage, communications, sensors, and other handy gadgets.  It should be noted that some Artifacts fall between two different categories.  The really powerful ones will have abilities in all three.

More info coming soon!

The Legions of Tannish

The military of Tannish is expansive and a little more complex than it really should be.  There are a handful of divisions within the Legion, including the Legionnaires (the ground troops), the Sea and Sky Corps, the Engineering Department, the Battle Wizards, and the Inquisition.

The Legionaires: they cover the whole ground forces, including land vehicles.  Almost everyone in the Legion ends up here.  Occasionally, rising to the other divisions happens (and it's not uncommon), especially if you show promise.  There's not a lot of choice when enlisting...  And draftee's have no choice at all.
 * Steam Knights are exclusive to the Legionaries.  It's often considered unwise to pilot one on an airship or boat.

the Sea and Sky Corps: the carriers and battleships that dot the waters and air belong to this division.  The air forces are fairly new, only becoming prominent in the current war against the Elves.
*Dragoons are units that possess special dual propler jump packs that allow them to hop from one ship to the next.  These are some of the bravest and skilled soldiers in the Legion, as it takes balls of steel to jump from a ship thousands of feet in the air onto another one that may be a few hundred feet away.

Engineering is in charge of repairing and developing new technology.  These folks are pulled from factory jobs to go up behind the frontlines to insure that tanks, steam knights, and ships are operating.  They receive some combat training to defend themselves in the worst case.
*Artificers are the rare engineer who delves into something stranger than normal.  Telsa weapons are their domain.

The Battle Wizards are the unlucky few went to the Mage's Association who claim Tannish home.  As part of a pact when a Tannishian joins the Association, they must serve the Empire when called upon.  While few in numbers (often times a unit only consists of 2-5 mages), their power is enough to support most war efforts.
*Alchemists, while not full mages, have proven themselves quite adept at battle.  Their bombs and alchemical shells more than compensate for their lack of spells, and doesn't interfere with guns.

The dreaded Inquisition keeps the entire Legion in line and serves as the Emperor's hidden agents.  They rarely operate in the open, and worst yet, they are armed with Artifacts, making them incredibly dangerous.  Deserters and traitors are often put down within days by these Inquisitors. The very fear of Inquisitors is just enough to keep most of the Legion serving the Emperor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Steam-Age Arcanus: Magic

One would think magic is simple, but it is not.  It's not just waving your hands in a funny fashion with a few silly words to make a fireball.  No, this is mostly mental control and formulas.  Occasionally there's a verbal command involved, but very few somatic or material components, unlike D&D.

But before we describe spell casting, we should discuss mana, the source of magic.  Mana is everywhere.  Some would describe it as the source of life, but this is not true.  Otherwise everyone would be dead after the Mana Wars when magic all but vanished from the world (thank you cataclysmic events for that one).  However, mana is a source of energy that is prominet throughout the world, but some areas have more than others, and while a few rare locations are void of it.  The former surplus is the result of Leylines, walls of pure mana the criss-cross throughout the world.  They are visible during the night, appearing not unlike the Aurora Borealis.  The later is refered to a Dead Zone: an area with no magic and where magic cannot be used.  Nobody knows why.

The next important thing to go over is how mana interacts with people.  All humanoids (humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc) have magic circuits - a special nervous system just for using mana.  Now, the average human only has a few (we're talking low single digits here), while elves have more (low 10's).  Mages have a great deal of magic circuits (anywhere from 20-50), while certain creatures have even more (some of the ancient golems have been discovered with over a hundred circuits).  In game system terms, a character with a high Energy Point pool will have more magic circuits than one with a low EP.  Regardless, to use magic or even magic items, one must have mana.  By drawing from those magic circuits while applying certain magical programs, one can cast spells.

The tricky part about spell casting is that they're actually just magical programs.  You have to 'teach' your magic circuits to use this spell before you can actually use it.  Which is harder than you'd hope.  This can take months, if not years, depending on the spell.  The more complex and powerful, the more time it takes for your circuits to learn the spell.  Afterwards, it's a matter of recalling the correct mental commands and directing mana through the right circuits, and the spell is cast.

This is where magic items, especially MysTek Artifacts, come into play.  These items have spells already programed into them, thus you just have to supply the mana to cast them.  Even constant effects may only require the essence of mana to be powered.  This is also how Dragonite is used - it possesses magic circuits that can only produce heat.

In all reality, most mages only know a dozen spells or so.  Only Archmages will know a lot.  It really comes down to the use of the spells, not the number, that's important.  Spells don't always have a singular use.  For example, a telekinesis type spell can be used to move something, or converted into a barrier to use against attacks.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arcanus Briefing

UPDATE 12/24/14 - Adjusted to suit the various runs.

The sound of engines reverberate through the airship.  No matter where you go, you cannot get true silence from these engines, but after a few days of constant flying, you have gotten used to it.  When you look out the windows, you can see the other 3 airships in the fleet heading for Altza territory.  The deck is insanely windy and the air is thin.  You are now only 2 days away from your destination - Camp Wyrmlock.

You, and your party (minus Prisoner) have been gathered for a particular team. You are under the command of Legate [PC Name Here], for one task - to escort the captive [Prisoner Character] (he needs to be alive) to a particular Ancient Ruin 50 miles west of the Altza capital.  You will be operating separate from the Imperial Legion, and most of the Legion is unaware of your mission.  And this mission came from the upper ranks of the Legion and the Inquisition.

What you know about your captive: [Prisoner] is not exactly human.  You have been informed during your briefing that he has some form of MysTek imbued into him. You have not been told why you need to take him to the ruins, but you have been told you will meet up with an agent of the Inquisition at the ruins.