Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wizards & Wastelands: The End

Since it's GURPSday, I figured I'd post a few days earlier than normal. Below is information on how it all ended as described in GURPS After the End - The New World. I welcome any feedback based on how well you think this represents the campaign setting to date. Also, any comments on what sort of magical hazards (if any) feel appropriate are greatly appreciated!

Primary Cause: Dinosaur Killer
Secondary Causes: Cosmic Rays, Mother Nature, Things Fall Apart
Appropriate Hazards: Aerosol Particulates (p. 10-11), Disease (p. 13-14), Gangs (p. 15-17), Heat (p. 12), Hyperstorms (p. 13), and Paramilitaries (p. 23-24).
Occasional Hazards: Alkaline Mud (p. 11), Cold (p. 12), Mutants (for animals, and some Nazi human experiments; p. 16-21), Sandstorms (p. 13), and Toxic Waste (p. 10).
TL: 8^
How Long Ago: 5 generations.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Wizards & Wastelands: A Timeline of Events

What follows is a timeline of events, as I've come up with them so far, that lead up to the apocalypse and beyond. I would love to hear anyone's suggestions about this; I am not a walking repository of conspiracy theories, and I'm sure I'm missing a truckload that could fit. More than that, I would love to see what connections anyone else might be able to make to really make this worthy of a YouTube conspiracy video. So without further ado...WAKE UP AND OPEN YOUR EYES, SHEEPLE!

The Timeline

1938, December 17         The New Swabia Expedition, a large-scale, five-month German expedition into the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica. While mapping the area, they discover a vast network of warm water underground caves extending miles below the surface.
1939, May 23                     Germany begins constructing a city-sized base beneath the Antarctic ice sheet codenamed Base 211 but more colloquially called New Berlin.
1939, November 13        A German construction crew at Base 211 stumbles upon a crashed alien craft frozen in the ice. New Berlin becomes a technological R&D center focused on reverse engineering the spacecraft.
1942, December 2           Erwin Rommel’s agents enter a series of secret catacombs beneath the Great Mosque of Kairouan. Therein, they locate a pair of ancient, broken tablets said to have been brought to Tunisia by barbary pirates circa 1590. The tablets’ history prior to this point is lost in antiquity, but their writing was clearly in an early Proto-Sinaitic orthography laced with cursive Egyptian hieroglyphs.
1942, December 23         After a consultation with Karl Ernst Krafft, Heinrich Himmler orders the tablets brought to Berlin.
1943, January 6                 The two 1’ x 2’ lapis lazuli tablets arrive in Berlin, where Karl Ernst Krafft receives them and sets to translating them.
1943, April 6                       The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) creates the Department of Historical Antiquities Research (DHAR) as a black organization dedicated to finding out why Hitler was so interested in the supernatural and finding ways to use it against him. This would eventually develop into the Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation, and Defense (DAVID) under the CIA.
1943, July 17                      Karl Ernst Krafft completes his translation of the ancient artifact. Within its religious texts, there resides a potent spell for defeating any enemy. The price of the ritual is extreme, however, so Himmler secretly secures the tablets as a last resort.
1944, June 6                       The Western Allies launch the largest amphibious invasion in history as part of Operation Overlord. The tides of war begin turning against Germany.
1944, August 24                New Berlin is abandoned and the Antarctic Nazi research facility is moved across the continent via a vast honeycomb of caves deep within the crust to beneath the Transantarctic Mountains and reestablished somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Kirkpatrick (see the Vela Incident, below).
1944, December 16         The Ardennes Offensive begins; Himmler has Krafft and a handful of his associates begin preparations for the ritual hidden within the tablets’ glyphs.
1945, January 8                 Karl Earnst Krafft dies of typhus after being arrested for treason by the Gestapo. His apprentices continue his work.
1945, April 30                     On Walspurgis afternoon, Adolf Hitler completes the ritual, using his and his wife’s life forces to power the spell. The war ended. Germany was defeated. Somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune, a comet was nudged.
1946, August 26                Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. ostensibly leads Task Force 68, comprising of 4,700 men, 13 ships, and 33 aircraft on a mission to establish the Antarctic research base, Little America. Unofficially, it was an offensive intended to root out the last Nazi stronghold and put an end to any future attempts to resurrect the Reich.
1946, December 30         Operation Highjump discover the remnants of Base 211 abandoned. They begin exploring the miles upon miles of tunnels beneath the ice.
1947, February 16            Task Force 68 comes under attack by what can only be described as flying saucers. The USS Pine Island along with four other ships were sunk and later stricken from the naval records for “no apparent reason.”
1947, February 22            Task Force 68 withdraws from Antarctica.
1947, July 8                         A Nazi aircraft is shot down over New Mexico, near Roswell. The US government intentionally gives flimsy stories about weather balloons and contradictory reports regarding the recovery of an alien body. In truth, the body of a blonde-haired, blue-eyes Argentinean national was recovered from the wreckage; “alien” was initially a reference to immigration status.
1947, Summer                  The Air Force continues to secretly perpetuate the UFO myth in the media while publicly denying a flying saucer was recovered. Meanwhile, the wreckage and body are transported to Area 51 for further study.
1950s                                     Cold War pressures to reverse engineer Nazi technology grow more intense and drive the expansion of Area 51 and the development of additional sister black sites like Area 25 – where captured Nazi cloaking technology is later adapted for mounting on US Naval vessels.
1951, January 7                 Wolf Rüdiger Hess, son of Rudolf Hess and apprentice to Karl Earnst Krafft, finally uncovers why the spell cast by Hitler on Walspurgis failed to destroy the enemies of Germany: The ritual worked, but on a timescale other than intended. Somewhere among the stars so valued by Krafft, Hess, and Himmler, a comet shifted its orbit, which in half a century will nudge an already mapped asteroid into a collision course with Earth. The impact will destroy the Allies and more than decimate the planet’s population. The slate will be wiped clean for Hitler’s Reich to rebuild.
1952, April 29                     The first of many fortified Nazi bunker complexes called the gewölbe des wissens or “vaults of knowledge” are established as both an archive and a way for the Reich der Menschheit to survive the coming apocalypse. It is through this system of vaults scattered across the world that they intend to bring about the anstieg der götter and establish a new and everlasting reich.
1955, August 3                  Having learned of the Vaults, the CIA restructures DPHAR into the Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation, and Defense (DAVID) and charges it with uncovering what the Nazis are doing. Much funding is funneled into DAVID as a black project ostensibly to fight the spread communism. Senator Joseph McCarthy is one of the project’s biggest proponents.
1961, May 7                        The Nazis successfully land one of their own on the dark side of the moon in preparations to establish a lunar outpost. They want a backup plan for when the asteroid finally strikes Earth.
1961, May 25                     President Jack Kennedy declares that America will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
1969, July 19                      The decreasingly popular President Nixon gives the final authorization to air footage of what the administration, backed by NASA, claim is Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. In truth, this was all falsified as part of an agreement between Nixon and the Lunar Nazis to boost his ratings and keep the moon free of non-Aryans.
1972, December 10         Apollo 17 arrives in lunar orbit. In a particularly Nixonian backstab, the capsule is armed with a nuclear warhead, despite Nixon’s communiques that the mission was another PR stunt to boost his ratings with undeniable pictures of the Earth from the Moon. America finally puts men on the moon for the first time.
1972, December 13         Ronald Ellwin “Ron” Evans, Jr. launches a ten megaton nuclear warhead at the Nazi based on the dark side of the moon, presumably destroying it utterly.
1979, September 22       Israel, in an attempt to destroy what they believed to be the Antarctic Nazi fortress, detonate a nuclear weapon in Queen Maud Land. Unfortunately, they don’t realize the Nazis are primarily on the other side of the continent. Still, the operation succeeds in sealing a portion of the tunnels and obliterates the remnants of the original Base 211
1985, January 6                 Martin Fleichmann receives a letter from Jgor Havel, an old friend from Czechoslovakia. Within it, Havel claims to have infiltrated a gewölbe des wissens and stolen
1985, November 13        Havel manages to leave Czechoslovakia and find Fleichmann at a symposium in London. There, he hands Fleichmann a copy of the plans for a cold fusion generator and the principles behind it. Most of this is somewhat beyond Fleichman’s understanding at the time, but he begins to skeptically read it through.
1988, February 12            Martin Fleichmann and Stanley Pons devise a cold fusion experiment in hopes of understanding and reverse engineering the Nazi technology. Naturally, Fleichmann withholds where he received his information – mostly for fear of being called a fake or conspiracy loon.
1989, March 23                 Fleichmann and Pons hold a press conference to announce their findings on working cold fusion. Afraid the existence of the Nazi Vaults would come to light, the government quickly covers this up by sabotaging attempts to reproduce the experiment and manipulating the media. Fleichmann and Pons are ridiculed for their claims.
1997, March 7                   Climatologists within the government issue a later-redacted report that suggests the melting of the Ross Ice Shelf may be the result of excess heat from the Nazi fortress.
2011, November 5           Keck Observatory identifies a near-Earth asteroid measuring some six miles across on an impact course with Earth. Impact is estimated to be in 2023.
2012                                       NASA begins laying the groundwork for the Asteroid Redirect Mission under the guise as being the first step toward putting men on Mars.
2013, February 28            Pope Benedict XVI resigns from the Papacy under pressure from the College of Cardinals, who having recently discovered his ties to the Nazi vaults. The Pope had been using his supreme access to research and ship some of the many occult artifacts accumulated beneath the Vatican. While no one is particularly surprised by the actions of the former Hitler’s Youth member, they can’t allow this to come to light, and cover it up.
2013, March 13                 The papal enclave elects Jorge Mario Bergoglio – a Jesuit – the 266th Pope in hopes that he can both mend the Roman Catholic Church’s public image and, more importantly, to assess the occult thread presented by Benedict’s actions.
2021, October 1                After numerous budget cuts, political infighting, and development delays, the SLS finally lifts off. At T+12 minutes, an unknown power surge triggers an explosion in the main fuel tank of the Orion spacecraft resulting in the complete loss of the vehicle. No live are lost, but NASA suspends the program pending a full design review. Sabotage is never officially mentioned as a cause.
2023, April 29                     The asteroid, later named Surtr, slams into atmosphere, where it breaks into three smaller pieces. The first slams into London, obliterating the city. The second vaporizes Moscow with a Tunguska-like explosion, and the third skips into Washington D. C., where it leaves nothing but a miles-wide crater and sends a massive tidal wave across the Atlantic into France and Spain. The resulting dust cloud blots out the sun, plunging the Earth into a mini ice age.
2025                                       Crops are failing worldwide and nations can no longer feed their people. Governments begin collapsing into anarchy.
2028, January 1                 A mere five years after the impact, 40% of the world’s population is dead from starvation, war, and disease. The cloud blanket still blocks out the sun. People are calling it the Long Winter.
2044, June 6                       A generation after the Surtr impact, humanity is broken and scattered. And the Nazi vaults begin to open. The first city to be reclaimed is Berlin.
2100                                       Now, the time of the Fourth Reich is near. The spell cast by Hitler's suicide brought the end of the world, absolutely obliterating his opponents. The descendants of the Nazis have crawled from the holes they hid in for decades with a vast bank of knowledge amassed in the days leading to the End Times. They toiled secretly, building infrastructure from the wreckage of the world, created powerful city-states from which to unleash the inevitable tide of war. Outside their walls, people fight to survive on the carcasses of the nations that once opposed the Axis. Soon the time will come to reclaim the world, to cull the impure, to build the Reich as it was intended to be. Until then, they wait, ever reaching out with their cold influence on the budding towns and cities near their strongholds.

So that's what I have so far. What connections don't flow? What conspiracies am I missing? What would you like to see added in?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wizards and Wastelands: Overview

I have recently returned to an old idea I use to kick around. One that let me don my conspiracy nutter hat. And what is a more awesome conspiracy topic than Nazis? So here is where far too many questionable Google searches led:

Hitler's suicide was a sacrifice used to fuel a spell aimed at the Allies. Unfortunately, the casting didn't work as panned, and delayed the effect by a century. Those Nazis who escaped criminal prosecution and execution at the Hague eventually discovered what went wrong and began constructing bunkers - vaults of information and supplies they could use to ride out the impending culling. Their plan was to emerge into the clean world and bring about the Fourth Reich. Of course, the Allies got wind of this, too, and made their own attempts to stop the Nazis throughout history. The OSS' and later the CIA's Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation and Defense was one clandestine organization founded to root out the Nazi vaults, stop any further mystical acquisitions, and generally defend against future Nazi occult attacks. The KGB set up a similar organization, although theirs was a bit more bent on using what they found to tip the balance of the Cold War.

In the end, however, no one could avert the apocalypse, which came in the form of a meteorite that broke apart on reentry and vaporized London, Moscow, and Washington DC and blanketed the sky in dust. Several generations later, the dust has settled, nature has reclaimed the world, the Nazis have crawled out of their bunkers armed with technical expertise generally lost to Humanity. Nazi City-states have sprung up behind thick concrete walls and the wilds beyond are considered tainted and uncivilized. Within those walls, fascist regimes maintain a stranglehold on civilization.

I'll take off that tin foil hat now and discuss initial design goals. This is probably a bit gonzo, but hey, it's based on a Nazi conspiracy theory. It won't work if it's not as over the top as the premise, right? So I began by just listing things I thought would be interesting and fitting:

  • Mutants!
  • Occult Magic!
  • Nazi UFOs!
  • Weird Science!
  • Wastelands!
  • Crumbling Cities!
  • Emergent City-States!
  • Emergent Evil (Nazi) Empire!
  • Biological Experimentation!

Looking at this list, it feels like a mix of After the End and Monster Hunters might make a fairly good fit. Mashing them together will take some work, and hopefully, I can stick with this long enough to see it through. If not, I will probably come back to it at a later date anyway. This is one of my three settings that gets periodic love (the other two being Starfall and Dark Horizons).

I plan on attacking this in the following way:

  • Establish a Timeline to support future worldbuilding and guide rules development.
  • Write up a brief description of The End as described in GURPS After the End - The New World. This will be crucial for developing appropriate templates later on.
  • Develop a set of templates, most likely heavily based on those in After the End.
  • Address what technology is readily available, what is rare, and just what the Nazis have.
  • Sort out how magic and any powers work. This will likely be where I delve into Monster Hunters for inspiration.
  • Make some sample PCs, run them through a couple of playtests, and see what works and what breaks.

So next installment will be comprised of a working timeline of events leading up to and through the start of the game.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Semester in Review

Well, I took my last final last Wednesday and got my final grades yesterday, so I thought I'd reflect a bit on how the semester went. Mind you, this was my first time back in school in eleven years, so I was a touch unsure of how well I'd do, but as my two our of two A's testify, I apparently have gotten back into the academic life just fine. Among other activities, I joined the Fencing Knights and have resumed fencing again and not only joined the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at UCF, but have also gotten a position as their staff writer and participated in the Rocket Design Project. While I was busy, I still had a fair amount of free time, so I think I probably could have done more while maintaining my grades. One thing I think was a bit odd to me was sitting in classes with people only one year older than my calculator. Trying to relate to some of them was definitely difficult, but I also found that a lot of the engineering students I met were much more focused on their ultimate goals and tended to be a little more mature. That is probably stereotyping, but it was reassuring that I could still relate to someone. Still, it was somewhat odd and surreal at times. All in all, I think I can probably do more, and I plan on attempting just that! I'm trying to get a Projects Officer position in the AIAA so I can exercise my managerial skills in coordinating the eight different projects we run throughout the year. In addition, this summer I will be participating in the Rocket Design Project again as well as the Hovercraft Design Project and continuing foil fencing while trying to branch out into epee with the Fencing Knights. Naturally, I don't plan on letting these extracurriculars lower my GPA as I continue forward academically with Calculus II and Physics I this summer. If all goes as planned, my resume will continue to grow, and I'll finally start my engineering classes this fall. And none of this mentions the articles I have submitted to Steven for Pyramid Magazine. Let's see how long I can keep juggling this schedule. With a little luck, all of this work will land me a good internship and ultimately a job!