That Ancient Serpent: Rules

January 27, 2011

Over beers the other night, John mentioned my plans to hack Apocalypse World to create a crusaderpunk setting inspired by Rifts: Wormwood and the German post-apocalyptic angels game Engel. I’d honestly forgotten that I’d written this basic sketch up on the train, before starting Super Suit. Here it is:

Stats + Basic Moves
Those who have self-appointed themselves as the just and the righteous claim that their inner strengths – their faith, wrath, zeal, truth, fire, and love – are simply lesser earthly reflections of the attributes of God, magnified by His mortal servants. They also say that these same traits in the unjust and unrighteous are projections of human hubris, manifestations of the deadly sin of Pride. Were that this was so.

The basic stats are faith (cool), wrath (hard), zeal (hot), truth (sharp), fire (weird), and love (Hx).

  • When you place your trust in God (or man) in time of danger (act under fire w/faith)
  • When you cow your enemies with righteous fury (go aggro w/wrath)
  • When you shed blood together in glorious strife (seize by force w/ wrath)
  • When you enjoin someone with the rectitude of your cause (seduce or manipulate, w/zeal)
  • When you are shown the inner workings of the human heart (read a person, w/truth)
  • When you are given insight into the true nature of things (read a charged situation, w/truth)
  • When you soul is licked by tongues of flame (open your brain, w/fire)
  • When you love your neighbor or harden your heart against them (help or interfere, w/love)
  • When you suffer for the greater glory of God (or man) (take harm, w/harm taken)
  • When you are brought together by righteous suffering (heal someone or are healed, love grows deeper)

Character Creation
Choose your name
Choose your ethnic + religious heritage
Rather than picking a character type, pick up to three character backgrounds and then 3 moves, at least one from each background.
Roll to see if you have been exposed to the plague. Djinn do not have to roll, since they are immune.
Pick your Special for the list, based on what seems most appropriate.

Backgrounds

Assassin
Eye on the Door: escape w/Faith
Moonlighting: doing murders + cover
Ice Cold: Go Aggro w/Faith/Love
— Interfere with Zeal

Cleric
Fortunes: surplus w/Fortunes
Prepared: Heal w/stock spent, 2-stock
Opportunistic: Interfere w/Faith
Prof. Compassion: Help w/Truth
Battlefield Grace: +1 armor when caring, not fighting

Craftsman
Moonlighting: honest work + one other
Things Speak: questions w/Fire
Bonefeel: arrive prepared w/Fire
Workspace

Djinn (cannot be Infected)
Dang & Sexy: stun w/Zeal
Hypnotic: devotion w/Zeal
Perfect Instincts: Read Sit at +2
Breathtaking: +1Zeal

God-Touched
Healing Touch: Heal w/Fire
Frenzy: lead mob w/Fire
Charismatic: Manipulate w/Fire
Reality’s Fraying: Augury
Unnat. Lust: Seduce w/Fire
Whacknut: +1Fire

Half-Djinn (cannot be Djinn)
Art & Gracious: desire w/Zeal
Seeing Souls: Help or Interfere w/Fire
Spooky Intense: Act w/Fire

Healer
Infirmary: workspace for patients
Angel Kit: Heal w/stock spent, 6-stock
Touched by Death: death = +1Fire

Infected
Visions of Death: say who will die w/Fire
Arresting: auto-stun
Merciless: +1Harm
Impossible Reflexes: 2/1-Armor
Direct Brain Whisper: Go Aggro w/Fire, no interact
Deep Insights: +1Fire

Knight
Leadership: gang fights w/Wrath
No Shit Driver: stats while in car
Collector: 2 more cars

Noble
Wealth: surplus w/Wrath
Fucking Thieves: stuff w/Wrath
Easy to Trust: Seduce or Manip w/Faith/Love

Peasant
Oftener Right: advice
Divine Protection: 1-armor
Moonlighting: honest work + one other
Insano: +1Wrath

Redeemed (must first be Infected)
Reputation: reputation w/Faith
Bloodcrazed: +1Harm
NTBFW: count as a small gang
Battle Hardened: Act w/Wrath

Slayer
Battle Instincts: Open w/Wrath in battle
With proper tools, count as a small gang against dragons
Car is Tank: big, tough car
Optional Battle Moves (against dragons)

Soldier
Fuck This Shit: escape w/Wrath
Pack Alpha: lead w/Wrath
Daredevil: +1Armor in danger
Good in Clinch: Act w/Truth

Sorcerer
Lost: someone comes w/Fire
Deep Brain Scan: questions w/Fire
In-Brain Puppet: command w/Fire
Casual Recept: Read Per w/Fire, no interact
Reality’s Fraying: Augury
Pret. At-Will: +1Fire

Specials
Special: Hx+3/+1
Special: nullify
Special: Deep Brain Scan, auto-hit
Special: gotta go
Special: +1Forward/+1Forward
Special: 1-barter gift
Special: Help or Interfere, no interact
Special: gig to keep them happy
Special: Things Speak, auto-hit
Special: several options for influencing others (Skinner)

How to Portray Dragons
To summarize: cross nightmares, tyrannosaurs, and crows. Dragons are feathered dinosaurs (like what we now think dinosaurs looked like) with an aura of terror based on Arresting Skinner.

Dragons are alpha scavengers: airborne tyrannosaurs with a cold, avian intelligence, possessing both a raven’s nose for blood and its eye for hoarding shiny objects. They descend on sites of violence and death – battlefields, hospitals, abattoirs, freshly dug graves – like sharks in a gluttonous frenzy. But rarely do they start the carnage themselves, preferring instead to amplify mankind’s own bloody tendencies into a sickening cacophony of suffering, turning tragedies into abominations with their mere presence. Wherever the scent of blood or pestilence rises into the air or the flash of riches or clash of arms glints brightly, they will come.

Dual Harm/Infection Clocks
In addition to the Harm clock there is also an Infection clock for each character, including NPCs. When a character has taken Harm, they can choose to heal that Harm by trading it in for equal amounts of Infection. The contagion simply takes over the injured parts of your body and fixes them up, but it also takes them for its own, causing your to grow slightly monstrous. Removing infection is possible, but it either requires a supreme act of exorcism or burning the infection out with djinn-fire. Both of those typically require you to take more damage than the infection originally healed, so – if you’re at a high infection level – removing the infection may very well kill you.

Also, sometimes becoming infected isn’t a choice on the player’s part. Sometimes when you mess up a Harm roll, the MC can give your some of the Harm you were supposed to take as Infection.

3 Responses to “That Ancient Serpent: Rules”

  1. Ry Says:

    That’s pretty hot, I’ve got to say.


  2. I forgot to mention: during play, characters that become infected get one of the moves from the “Infected” background for every two points of Infection they gain. Consequently, for characters that start with the Infected background, the amount of Infection they begin play with is just 2x the number of moves they took from that background.

  3. Rusty Says:

    This is great stuff. You couldn’t be enticed to pretty it up and sell it?

    Rusty


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