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02 July 2014 @ 02:18 pm
Cthulhutech remix  
So, I like Cthulhutech...or at least, I liked the idea of it back when the creators were teasing it almost a decade ago. When it came out, there were some sour notes, and it got worse and worse as the supplements increase, with a super-creepy focus on sex as a (maybe the) source of horror and a view of world culture taken straight from suburban WASP America, until I basically threw it all down in disgust. But just based on the first book and the companion book, I ran a relatively long game (20+ sessions) with just softlykarou as a player, chronicling the tale of a psychologist providing counseling to Engel pilots in the NEG military. You can find the Actual Play thread I wrote here, if you're interested--it has one of the best plot twists I've ever done in a game, which I'll put here in a spoiler for people who don't want to wade through the thread:

[Spoiler (click to open)]softlykarou's character kept getting contacted by a creepy psychic-supremacist cult after she developed psychic powers, and when she was visited by the Office of Internal Security, she managed to get them off the scent and keep her activities, odd psychic impressions, and dreams concealed. Or so she thought. In actuality, the very first time she talked to the OIS, the psychic with the OIS officer picked out that she had been contacted by a cult, and then they recruited her for a deep cover mission to infiltrate the cult headquarters, erased her memory of agreeing to it, and painted it over with a false memory of her managing to fool OIS. I didn't tell softlykarou any of this.

When the PC showed up at the cult headquarters, she was really surprised when they told her that they had explicitly told her never to come there unless there was a huge emergency. Then an OIS strike team teleported in (with psychic aid), started arresting everyone, and hilarity ensued. The OIS agent walked up to softlykarou's PC, who was expecting to be arrested, black-bagged, and never seen again, the agent turned to the psychic, said, "Show her," and then I spun my laptop around and showed the scenes I had written up with what had really happened with her interactions with the OIS.

I was really proud of that.


It's a good thread, though. I spent a bunch of time on it, back in the day, so I'd love it if you read it.

Anyway, it's a rewrite of part of the timeline and a change in focus to mix up Cthulhutech with Wildfire's other RPG The Void, along with some influence from Ettin's Nyarlathotech. You can find the Cthulhutech timeline here (PDF warning) if you're not familiar with the setting and are curious.

Basically, everything in that timeline happens as written up until 2063, with the exception that the mi-go don't tell anyone, even the Nazzadi High Command, about themselves. The Nazzadi are set on Earth with entirely manufactured memories and that's assumed to be enough, but the genetic similarities and other odd cultural cues cause the same questioning of the war effort and a civil war in the Nazzadi fleet. In this version, the sides are much more equal, and fight each other nearly to a stand-still until the peace-favoring side strikes a deal with the NEG, who join the Nazzadi civil war on their side. The losing side takes a large portion of the fleet and flees to the outer solar system, settling around Neptune, Uranus, and the moons of Saturn.

There were over a billion Nazzadi in the fleet and twice that many humans died in the war, with massive destruction of property and life. The Nazzadi didn't exactly win, but still maintained massive orbital superiority, so a treaty is hammered out where most of the Nazzadi fleet travels to Mars and settles there, far away from the Barsoomian human colony and now vastly outnumbering them. About one-fifth of the Nazzadi decide to settle on Earth, forming a substantial but not overwhelming minority group here and there. They do not inexplicably throw everyone out of Cuba.

Things remain tense, with the occasional riot or hate crime since nearly everyone on the planet knows someone who died in the First Contact War and many Nazzadi still maintain their old religion that has them as the chosen people, perfect creations of the gods who are destined to rule over everything else, but the relative separation of Nazzadi on Mars and humans on Earth help keep things from boiling over until the Crysalis Corporation (which is not directly run by Nyarlathotep, although Stephen Alzis is the CEO) manages to arrange the summoning of...something in Tibet.

A psychic shockwave ripples out through South, Southeast, and East Asia, and about one in three people in a huge radius essentially goes homicidally insane. The NEG has a really hard time containing the threat, both due to shock and because it's indiscriminate in its effect, and ends up mobilizing the army and requesting aid from the Nazzadi on Mars. The Nazzadi gear up their war machine and get ready to come in when unidentified ship signatures are detected moving in from the outer solar system.

Then the mi-go cruise into orbit over Asia and unleash orbital bombardment until the rampaging hordes are nearly wiped out. Then, ignoring all communication from the Nazzadi and the NEG, they leave. All probes sent to the outer system are destroyed, either by the Nazzadi Empire in the outer system or by unknown means when they approach Pluto. Earth, with another billion or so people dead and almost an entire continent devastated, settles down and tries to recover.

And that's the state of the game. The Deep Ones, being a power with no air or orbital support, confine themselves mostly to deep-sea terrorism and infiltrating coastal communities, making them more of a target for covert military action and espionage rather than mecha-on-mecha throwdown battles. The Nazzadi Empire occasionally raids from the outer systems and there are frequent skirmishes around Saturn and Jupiter. The major problem are cults, like the Church of All, a front for the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and the Dionysis Club, a group of sybarites corrupting the highest levels of the NEG and Nazzadi governments, and weird occurrences, like the sudden appearance of an alien ecosystem on parts of Callisto, the occasional person living outside the arcologies snatched up by flying things in the night, or the Zone that swallowed Las Vegas and the bizarre monsters that occasionally emerge from it. The Tagers and their war against the Crysalis Corporation can be used essentially unchanged.

Gameplay thus can take similar emphasis to Cthulhutech, but with a different focus. A military game takes place in the colonies or under the waves, an investigation game can occur in the arcologies or traveling between planets, and there's plenty of space for lots of different games.

Oh, and I'd probably run this with Shadowrun, since Framewerk is so awful. I mean, look at the probability distribution. Success is incredibly random and basically impossible to predict, which pretty much matches my experience when I ran it. I'm not even going to try to fix that. I can work on the fluff, but the crunch is getting trashed. Shadowrun has its own problems, but it allows magic and cybernetic and biotech modification out of the box, which I like.

There's probably more than could be done with this, but I figured I'd get that much out of my head first.
 
 
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q99q99 on July 3rd, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
Ah, Cthulhutech. One of the few things I can say to have gone from cool to 'I *really* hate this game!' in my eyes, and for the same reason. I felt it not only got creepier, but failed to live up to the promise of a human society actually somewhat-prepared to fight cults and mythos things. Having psychologists and anti-cult agencies actually be reasonably effect is a requirement IMO.
dorchadas: Pile of Dicedorchadas on July 3rd, 2014 04:10 am (UTC)
It's the RPG I can really say broke my heart, because I had such high hopes for it, and yet... I was pretty happy with how the one game I ran turned out, but the system fought us every step of the way and I had to ignore a lot (a lot) of the stuff in the supplements that made no sense.

Just relative to the game I ran, apparently every NEG citizen gets biweekly psychological checkups. That would require roughly 6% of the total population to be licensed psychologists.

I wasn't even that bothered by Exalted, where I ran a years-long game without running into any real problems.

The Void isn't that bad, though it's not really imaginative. Just workmanlike, with a generic d6 dice pool system.

Edited at 2014-07-03 04:10 am (UTC)
q99q99 on July 3rd, 2014 07:57 am (UTC)
-
Just relative to the game I ran, apparently every NEG citizen gets biweekly psychological checkups. That would require roughly 6% of the total population to be licensed psychologists. -

Hey, in a mythos world, that makes sense! It's like military duty except instead of shooting people you make sure their heads are sorted out.