The Rune 1.9

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

The Rune 1.4

The Rune 1.5

The Rune 1.6

The Rune 1.7

The Rune 1.8

<>

I awake in a cell, a concrete tomb that has never seen the sun, a barren womb that emanates stillborn despair.

My head is heavy, my eyes are leaden. Sleep in this place is hard and my dreams are unquiet. It takes me time to situate myself in this forgotten place. I am a prisoner, taken for my secret knowledge of the runes. I am cogent, but something stirs beneath the surface of my thoughts. Flashes of deeds and hidden memories threaten move in the deeps of my unconscious mind. Something has happened.

I remember a girl; Andrea, Adrianna, Amy? or was it a man? Andrew, Daffyd, Mikael? There was a gun. Corridors much like the one outside the cell. Monsters in the dark. And Runes, always Runes. Wierder things that I cannot quite grasp. I push deeper, trying to remember, willing myself to recall. But the images confuse me, overwhelm me, like a child leafing through an entire library shelf of books all at once. I feel like I am drowning. I gasp for air and let it go. Something is wrong.

After some time, I gather my wits. I decide it is best not to plumb the depths of my mind in such a place. At least not right now, not in such a dire place.

I take stock of what I know for certain. The easy stuff. How long have I been here? It seems like forever, but I cannot remember more than three days. I know that I failed a test somehow. They know I can see the runes. How did I give myself away?

And, of course, I know that on the wall across the cell from me, like an old companion, sits a rune. Massive and powerful, waiting for me, always waiting for the answer that only I can provide.

<End, For Now>

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The Rune 1.8

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

The Rune 1.4

The Rune 1.5

The Rune 1.6

The Rune 1.7

<>

Amy with the gun, looked down, face ashen grim. She stood still, knuckles white around the handle of her weapon, lost in thought.

“Mark them,” she said after a long moment. “They want to follow us… They must want to use us to find the others. That means that they are alive and well.”

“It also means that they know runes. I thought runes were the tools of the enemy?”

“I’ll bring up the inquisition’s hypocrisy next time we meet for tea,” said Amy, recovering some of her vivacity. “But now you understand why I met with you, Gun in hand. These people will stop at nothing to destroy us.”

“Why?”

“… I don’t know, actually. They hate runes, but they use them. Power and control I guess. There are people who can answer your questions better than I can. We need to find them, but we cannot risk leading the Inquisition to them.”

“Can we lure something through the ‘mark them’ rune?”

“I don’t think so. It seems to be keyed to the runes marking the way. It will only mark people who are following those runes.”

“Maybe we are making this too complicated.”

I bent over the “MARK THEM” rune, concentrating. I reached out to the Rune.

“Wait, what are you…” began Amy.

Then I touched the rune. I felt a rush of power, a pure jolt running through me. Then I was flying through the air. I hit the wall and everything went black.

<>

The Rune 1.6

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

The Rune 1.4

The Rune 1.5

The Rune 1.6

<>

“Another one?” I asked, visions of the Groaners tearing at my flesh flashing through my head.

Amy with the gun smirked at me. “I wasn’t being serious.”

“This is very, very serious for me, Amy. I have only the vaguest idea of what is going on, and that is the first time that I have seen a Groaner. Try to appreciate why I might not find that funny.”

“Yeah, yeah, I didn’t see you complaining about my manners when I was saving your ass, buddy.”

“Yeah, speaking of that… do your bullets have runes on them?”

Amy with a gun stopped and turned to look at me, eyes narrowed. “Tell me exactly what you saw.”

“When you fired the gun, I saw the bullet go by, I saw a rune on it, I think.”

“Can you draw the rune that you saw?” Amy with a gun asked in a tone that intimated that she thought I was full of shit. As she spoke her free hand produced a small black notebook. It instantly struck me as odd when I first looked at it, but I could not place why.

“Shouldn’t we be moving away from the Groaners?”

“Yup, it is a good reason to do as I asked right quick. Draw it.”

I grabbed the notebook. It felt oddly heavy. I scribbled the rune”DEATH” in it and handed it back to Amy with the gun. She looked at it, then looked at me. It was a guarded look, one that lasted a little too long.

“Come on, we need to get going.”

I was so relieved to get moving again that I forgot that look.

The Rune (1.6)

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

The Rune 1.4

The Rune 1.5

<>

Huge watery eyes, grey-green flesh that looked like it was half-melted like an old candle, and a gaping, triangular maw characterized the creatures that I saw before me. They teach us that Groaners are just degenerate men, driven mad by toxins or bestial by lack of order, but I could hardly credit that as they swarmed over the heap of ruined flesh that was one of their number.

Amy with the mohawk held her enormous gun leveled at the Groaners, but made no further move, save to check the tunnel behind us.

The closest Groaner met my eyes. It was like looking into deep, murky water. The maw yawned open and it hissed at me, revealing a freakishly large gullet full of glistening serrated teeth. Then it began to scramble forward, the others hissing in its wake.

“Fuck.”

I felt Amy with the mohawk`s gun fire again. Saw the word ‘DEATH’ flash down the hall, hit the charging Groaner and flow into the corpse as the bullet blew through it, splattering thick blackish blood all over its comrades. The word became part the Groaner somehow, killing it with a finality that seemed to overshadow the bullet.

The Groaners behind stopped, hissing at us, and then swarmed onto their dead packmate, ripping at the flesh, biting great chunks out of the flesh. Some of them began to feast on the first Groaner as well.

“Groaners are reasonable when it comes down to it,” said Amy with the mohawk as we backed away. “If there is enough food to go around, they won’t bother to chase you. Let’s get the fuck out of here, chum. It is a long walk to the safe zone and I would never hear the end of it if I lost another one to Groaners.”

The Rune (1.5)

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

The Rune 1.4

<>

Everything seemed to happen at once. Amy with the mohawk leveled her gun. I ducked. Then gun went boom, a sound that erased all others, making my eardrums scream. I felt the hot flash of the reaction spilling from the muzzle of the weapon… and something else. I saw the word ‘death’, written in runic, and felt it too, as the bullet whizzed by incomprehensibly fast. It was like there was two of me, one, the normal guy who can’t read the side of a bullet, and another tucked away inside to whom that tiny fraction of a fraction of a second was just not that much of an obstacle to a good read.

It was intense, like orgasm or eureka, one of those moments so singular that everything else seems to melt away so you can focus. I would not soon forget it.

The bullet with the word flew over my shoulder. I was far to slow to see the impact, and yet somehow I could trace the path of the projectile as if I was riding it. Then it hit something, there was a screech, and the word ‘death’ became ‘DEATH’, a sentence invoked and executed.

My focus faded. Amy with the mohawk stepped past me, snarling, gun still raised. I turned and saw my first Groaner.

RPG Building: Runepunk #4 (Dice Mechanics 2)

This is a continuation of last week’s post, which sets out my goals for a dice mechanic for a homebrew RPG system to replace Shadowrun 5th for one of my larger and less experienced gaming groups.

I like 3-4 dice because it gives me a predictable bell curve. This won’t matter at all for most of the players, but it does help me set difficulties as a game master. A few of the more advanced players will also grok to that as well.

I love exploding dice, but they work less well with multi die systems. The solution I have used in the past is to roll a different sized die for the exploding die. A different colour of die would work too, but it has the potential to be confusing.

So I will go with that system which uses 3d6 +d8 added together. This gives me a range of 4 to 26 with an average weighted exactly to 15, which is an easy difficulty number. I have used this dice set in the past with good success. I called the d8 the Chaos die.

  • Roll 3d6 and add a d8
  • On a roll of 8 on the Chaos die take another d8, roll and add it
    • Keep rolling. In older versions of Chaos die I just assigned a big bonus to a roll of 8. Open ending more is more fun! The rule is stop once the highest level of success has been achieved.

The standard mechanic for a roll and add system is to set a variable difficulty. The more difficult the action, the higher the target number. I used to do it this way, but having a set target number and rolling difficulty into a modifier for the die roll, might be a way to squeeze more efficiency out the system. It will certainly let the player know how well they did without my input.

Old way: roll + modifiers vs difficulty

New way: roll + modifiers (difficulty included) vs set TN

Thus in this version a 15 is the TN for a basic success. Additional levels of success would be 20, 30, and 50+ for argument’s sake.

Difficulties would be +5 (easy), +3 (routine), +0 (Standard), -3 (Hard), -5 (Harder), -10 (Extremely Hard), -15 (Heroic), -20 (Epic), -25 (Legendary), -30 (Mythical)

This relegates difficulty to another roll modifier. It does lose some levels of precision in choosing a base difficulty and then stacking modifiers onto it like some games might, but that is a degree of precision that is only useful for tournaments and organized play with experienced players; I am willing to lose it for Runepunk.

Opposed rolls would simply be based on whoever rolls higher, with the level of success of the action added to the reaction as a modifier.

Now what about critical failure and open ending down.

I do like the idea of critical failure, though mostly as a gauge of how screwed minions are when they make bad rolls. I’ll set it at 5 or less, which would be pretty unlikely without a big penalty.

With the old Chaos die system I used to have a roll of 1 on the d8 open end downward. This was both complicated and not fun when it happened to a player. Instead with this system, if a player rolls a 1 on the Chaos die they cannot use re-rolls.

The final product looks like this:

3d6 + d8 (open ended) +/- modifiers (including difficulty) vs 15

Not bad for now 🙂

The Rune (1.4)

After much soul-searching, I have decided to write a few short stories, unrelated to the other works, before continuing on with the next of the Shadow Wolf Sagas, just to keep it fresh. As always, this is raw and uncut; enjoy responsibly.

The Rune 1.1

The Rune 1.2

The Rune 1.3

<>

“So, what your name?”

“I don’t do names, not like this,” said the girl with the Mohawk and the rather impressive looking runed hand cannon.

“Can I ask where you are taking me?”

“Do you know where you are?”

The walls of the passage we were in were solid concrete, solid on nondescript. It was large enough to be an underground roadway of some sort, but I saw no sign of vehicles, only smaller tunnels at irregular intervals. One of the side passages that I could see had stairs. leading up.

“We’re underground.”

“You’re a fucking genius, you are,” said my guide, rolling her eyes. “I’m taking you to meet the people who decide if you get to live or die.”

That pissed me off. I stopped moving and turned to face her. She smirked and looked me in the eye, the barrel of her gun resting on her shoulder. There was a cold frankness to her gaze. I crossed my arms and held my ground, waiting for her to speak.

She sighed.

“My name is Amy,” she said. “This is an old bunker from the Beforetime. We’re not sure if it is military or corperate, but it has been abandoned, by people at least, for a long time. It was built to last though. The closest city is Chalpit.”

Chalpit was halfway across the country from home, although I did not know the location of the prison where I was being kept. How far had that Rune taken me?

“Uh, Amy, my name is Jon.”

“Please to meet ya, Jonny,” she said. The cold look was gone. “Listen, fella. I was serious about groaners. We cleared most of them out when we moved in here, but they keep coming back.”

“Wait, who is we?”

“The Carvers.”

The Carvers were terrorists of the highest order. But, then again, people who knew how to use runes were dissonants, so it made sense that the powers that be would want to paint a bad picture of any organization that sought to free them.

“What do the Carvers want with me?”

“Fuck,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Why do the cute ones have to be so wordy? Listen, Jonny Boy, we have a long way to go, walk with me and I will explain–“

Her mouth cut off mid sentence, the ‘nnnnn’ sound becoming a snarl as she leveled her gun at me. The movement was so swift I was still watching her red lips move as the big black barrel appeared in my line of vision.

“Duck.” she said.

And the gun went boom.