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New Orleans, Brought To You By TeslaTech


Malachite
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System: The Simple System (at the end)

Setting: Unique, read below. 
Style: Primarily sandbox. People can volunteer to run plots and I'll do some as I get inspiration, but no ST-run stuff is guaranteed.
Genre: Hidden supernatural world that ranges between steam-, cyber-, and diesel-punk.
Theme: Striving against mediocrity. 

New Orleans is set in a modern alternate Earth. History diverges in two main ways: there are supernaturals in the world and Nikola Tesla managed to overtake the labs of Thomas Edison in being the adopted technology by most of the western world. This changed the timeline of everything basically post WWI, moving many things up and the world changing because of how much that altered the politics around WWII. I’ll get an in-depth timeline posted up a little later, but for now I’m just going to go over how the world is at the start of the game. 

 

New Orleans is a nexus of travel, a haven of culture, and as in every version, always in the middle of a party in one part of the city or another. They are one of the major tube hubs (think hyperloops buried underground), airship hub and major port. The city has defied “Americanization”, keeping alive vibrant, distinct cultures. Some of the cultures and traditions only exist in New Orleans now - they’ve died out completely in their historical points of origin. The city sprawls much farther than the “real” New Orleans. This gives us room to add what we want. 

 

Technology is thematic in the game by region: in America, it’s Tesla-inspired semi-futuristic. Think steampunk meets cyberpunk. In the Commonwealth it’s more towards steampunk without as much futuristic. The Holy Russian Empire and the Republic of China are technologically in the 1980/90’s. Think dieselpunk, with Russia filling in gaps with changeling tokens when no one’s looking and China using clever applications of ancient techs instead of cheating with magic. 

 

 

Character Types

I’ve built stuff in the game based off both new and classic World of Darkness ideas. I want this setting to be very open, so those are only guidelines. If you want to add something to the world, we’ll talk it over and figure out how to thread it (the character type, a social/political structure, a history, whatever).

 

Mages

The Tesla Cabal is loosely based off the Technocracy. The vibrant cultural magical traditions in New Orleans run along the lines of the Traditions from classic mage. You don’t have to play out of those concepts only for a mage, but that’s the guiding culture. There’s no Atlantean history for New Orleans, but there can certainly mage orders like the Silver Arrows or the Guardians of the Veil. You can come from a religious mage tradition that’s based off the Obrimos, and so on. 

 

Werewolves/shifters

There’s no Weaver-Wyrm-Wyld to the world, but werewolves have their own beliefs. Packs in the US tend to be self-sufficient and only come together in clutches when there’s a great need (like nWoD), but in the Commonwealth there’s a strict (if rough-and-tumble in placement) hierarchy that includes caerns being standard (like oWoD). Other shifters can choose to be like the wolves or not - and if a pack accepts non-wolves that’s generally seen as the pack’s own business. In the Commonwealth, the non-wolf will be expected to keep up regardless of how ridiculous that might be to accept. They are of the opinion that if you’re pack, you must be able to be as much pack as any other wolf - otherwise you’re just a ward of the pack and not treated as an equal.  

 

Changelings

So, Fae are straight-up aliens. Not flying saucer aliens, but there’s nothing Earth-natural about the Fae or the changelings that come back. The Fae are basically transdimensional slavers and pretty much everyone hates them. Changelings face a fair amount of stigma for what they are - usually showing up as pity or distrust. This leans more Lost than Dreaming, as people aren’t fae souls in human bodies but humans altered by faeries. If you want to make a changeling Eshu or Sluagh, that’s pretty easy enough to do thematically. Also, if people want to play aliens that have decided to relocate to Earth (goblins, aliens taken from other places than Earth by the fae and made into a different flavor of changeling), we can work that in, too. 

 

Vampires:

If it drinks blood to sustain itself and doesn’t age, it’s a vampire. Unless those damn fae did that to them and then there’s waffling between changeling and vampire. Most vampires are embraced by another vampire, creating a blood lineage, but other weird things have been known to happen. There’s a whole slew of vampire flavors and we can accommodate nearly all of them here. There’s the highly ceremonial Moon Courts in the Republic of China. Russia has vampires sprinkled all throughout the Freeholds. Vampires mostly do their own power things in the Commonwealth and America, though the influence of the Moon Courts are felt pretty much everywhere. 

 

Everything Else

Want to play something else? Okay! Let’s talk it over. Not everything fits under those four and that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the world. Those four are just the most common.

 

 

A little supernatural mythos: it is widely believed that there are Wellsprings (formal name: Adarsa) for each supernatural type in the world. These Wellsprings are the beings that define (in general terms) what it is to be one of that broad type of supernatural. People spend their lives trying to find or understand the Wellsprings - it’s even believed that if you know the right things to do, you could kill a Wellspring and take on their mythic power, allowing you to redefine that supernatural type to your liking. 

 

The Wellsprings that are commonly believed to exist or spoken of in myths are: 

  • Rudhira, Adarsa of the Blood (if you’re vamp or vamp adjacent, you’re here)
  • Yamala Satman, Adarsa of Twin Souls (Shifters go here.)
  • Indrajala, Adarsa of Magic (Mages, your spot, along with Promies)
  • Mirtyu, Adarsa of Death (Geist, Mummies, Ghosts, this is your spot)
  • Cetas, Adarsa of the Mind (Psychics of most stripes)

 

Some people whisper that the Tesla Cabal is or has created a new Adarsa they want to exist under, the Adarsa of the Machine, and that already weird new creatures have come from this Adarsa as it makes a power base for itself in the world. 

  • Machine, Adarsa of the Machine (demons/angels from nWoD, hunters, most “mortal splats” go here)

 

This isn’t set in hard, bold stone for characters, just another way for characters to connect through a mystical bond, if you want to play up that theme with your character. Or play up alienation for being on the fringes of two different camps. 

 

 

The Political Stuff

The American Congress 

The mundane: 

  • Both continents are now one nation, combined with Australia (which defected away from the British sphere after WWII) and including the South Pole. The old national borders have pretty much been erased as anything other than a cultural curiosity. Ruled by the American Congress, the American Judiciary, and the American President.
  • The tube system connecting the cities of America (term is applied to the entire landmass) is the most developed in the world. Travel between American cities is fast, safe, and ubiquitous. 
  • Cultural differences and adherence to old cultural traditions is seen as “rural” and low class. There is a prevailing “American” culture that is bland, has only civic holidays, and doesn’t vary much from place to place in the country. Milquetoast here. Celebrating/observing religious traditions or “exclusion traditions” is seen as primitive (no Mardi Gras, no Christmas, no Oktoberfest, no St. Patrick’s Day and so on) and is socially frowned on. 
  • All Americans are guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, and medical care. Anyone in the hemisphere is guaranteed these things while they are here, but American citizens get access to a higher “tier” of many of these things than visitors do (they can pay to “upgrade”). What’s provided is also considered at least middle-class luxurious to the rest of the world at base, if not a bit above that. People can earn money to purchase what Americans consider luxury, and most people do. Often, it’s spent on trips travelling outside of America more than just about anything else. From the outside it looks like a paradise, but there are a number of hidden controls/catches in those “freebies”. Citizens are required to work 100 hours a year for the government to maintain citizenship (with deferrements for anyone that’s a declared ward of the state - all children and those that can’t take care of themselves, pretty much). 
  • The political system is dizzyingly complex and requires years of dedicated study and slow from-the-bottom-up work to be able to lead or run for offices higher than the local level. Most people don’t bother since life is generally just fine for them.

 

The supernatural:

  • Tesla was a mage, one with a genius in marrying technology and his particular brand of magic. He founded a cabal to assist in producing his magical devices, spreading them across America and eventually Europe as well, and maintaining them afterwards. The cabal was fairly large before Tesla’s disappearance and was already starting to stratify and calcify in unhealthy ways. Since then, the Tesla Cabal has ruled America clandestinely. They choose which leaders get to advance in the political machine, what the themes of entertainment and fashion will be, and have effectively stomped out the majority of cultural heritage in the territory to make the masses easier to control. 
  • Mages are ascendent in America, though other supernaturals are more tolerated across the board than pretty much anywhere else in the world. So long as they don’t cause problems/disruptions, the Cabal mostly just ignores them in favor of internal politics and esoteric pursuits (mostly the former, though). 

 

The Commonwealth of States

The mundane:

  • A constitutional monarchy that covers all of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and some countries that string along to India (and including India) and originally included South East Asia (now under Chinese control after the Cold War).
  • Ruled by the Supreme Majesty Elizabeth II, a woman in surprisingly good health and energy for her mid-90’s. While the Commonwealth is technically a constitutional monarchy, Elizabeth wields all the real power. Publicly she’s a beloved symbol of the nation and patriotically invested leader - behind the scenes she’s the only power that matters and rules with deft political maneuvering and an iron hand when needed. 
  • Life in the Commonwealth is much like real-world Europe: a robust social net but primarily a capitalistic economic model. There’s an entrenched upper crust that’s been there for centuries and social class is a fairly iron-clad deal from birth. There’s been more social exchange between Africa and Europe, and Britain is certainly the ‘island jewel in the crown of the Commonwealth’. 
  • TeslaTech has spread far and wide in the Commonwealth - it was first taken up just before WWII and then spread as quickly as possible during the conflagration. While it still lags behind America’s progress and omnipresence, it can be found in all but the most rural areas and is in daily usage in the union. 

 

The supernatural:

  • Elizabeth’s a werewolf. Straight up the Alpha of Alphas in the Commonwealth. Shifters are ascendent in the Commonwealth and don’t so much rule over the other supernaturals as ignore them until they even stare too long at “out of line”. Then the packs show up, there’s a lot of blood and screaming, and then silence. You keep your head down in the supernatural community of the Commonwealth unless you know you can take the hit or don’t have need of your head anymore. Changelings are viewed especially suspiciously and smacked down for even just imagined issues on a regular basis. 

 

The Republic of China

The mundane:

  • The Republic of China is ruled by the Koumintang (KMT) and is a one-party authoritarian regime. “Presidents” come and go with the rise and fall of individuals inside the KMT, but for the average Chinese citizen, the particulars don’t really matter. Life is highly structured and proscribed by the government: citizens are cogs for the many many wheels of the part and replaced or reallocated as needed without much concern for the desires of the cogs. 
  • Corruption is the order of the day, ruled by paranoia. The people mostly tend to themselves and try to keep out of the eyes of the powerful. The average Chinese citizen lives well below the standard of living in America or the Commonwealth, while the powerful are also wealthy. Ostentatious displays of wealth and charity are common social posturing in the Republic, though such “charity” is carefully tailored not be a path out of the lower social classes - no one moves up without the party’s approval, though everyone can fall. 
  • While TeslaTech is present in China, it’s sharply regulated and still restricted mostly to the major cities. Only those in the top 10% of the country will have deep familiarity with it or personally own any devices. 

 

The supernatural:

  • Vampires have taken over the Republic, ruling from the darkest shadows and quiet of the night. Most prominent members of the Party are ghouls and major shifts within the Party merely reflect social maneuvering among the Moon Courts. Because of the control of those that count time in centuries, the Republic is a very stable - and calcified - for the supernatural community. 
  • Vampires are ascendent in the Republic, with other supernaturals usually sheltering under an alliance or fealty to an elder vampire - just as young vampires do. The various Moon Courts throughout the republic each have their own flavor and have complex relationships with the other Courts. Attempting to navigate the Courts can be a task that requires years or decades of study to do successfully on any large scale. The vampires don’t mind - they have the time. 

 

The Holy Russian Empire

The mundane:

  • After the end of WWII and Stalin’s descent into madness, God sent Princess Anastasia back to Earth to bring Russia back to righteous glory. Or at least a young woman with a striking resemblance to the Grand Duchess showed up and managed to convince enough Russians that that was true. She’s ruled Russia ever since and barely seems to have aged over the intervening century. The Russian people view her as a divine ruler and most worship her in some fashion. 
  • Russia has managed to recover from the losses of WWII, but it’s been a slow rebuilding. They’ve refused more than a few outposts of TeslaTech, instead placing their interest and trust in homegrown tech along similar lines and using the dieseltech pioneered by Edison. While they despise the inventor for his Nazi affiliations, his tech doesn’t require letting Tesla engineers into the country with blackbox technology as critical infrastructure. 
  • Empress Anastasia has made one massive blunder in her time ruling: the Cold War. She was attempting to agitate border provinces of both the Commonwealth and the Republic to create internal strife and calls to defect to the Empire. When open rebellion actually came, it nearly engulfed the world in the third world war. The Tesla Cabal was swift to act, reminding the rest of the world that they had laid out strict rules and borders to avoid this very thing. They rewrote the map after assessing the damages done, their view of the culpability of those involved, and listening (usually via telepathy) to what the rebels and general population in that area wanted. It was the largest open action taken by the “American Congress” (for the mundanes, but actually the Cabal) since the first division of the world. At the end, the Holy Empire lost a fair amount of territory in both Europe (to the Commonwealth) and Asia (to the Republic), the Commonwealth lost Southeast Asia to the Republic, while America claimed New Zealand and some island nations between Australia and the Western Hemisphere. America also formally claimed Antarctica. That was nearly half a century ago, and Russia is still sullen about the whole thing. It’s best not brought up in the Imperial Court. 

 

The supernatural:

  • Anastasia is actually Grand Duchess Anastasia - she was taken by one of the alien Fae during the revolution and managed to return to Earth during WWII. She wormed her way into Stalin’s inner circle using nostalgia, an innocent appearance, and the considerable gifts her changeling nature gave her. Once Stalin went completely off the deep end and destroyed his support in Russia, she decided to take the risk and reveal herself for direct rule. It worked and she was the first supernatural to openly rule in over a millenia. She also inadvertently played into the creation of ascendency on a large scale in each power bloc. 
  • Changelings are ascendent in Russia, with shifters at the bottom of the social totem pole because of the tensions and constant low-grade antagonism between Russia and Europe. Mages are viewed with fear, leading to their “encouragement” to either be a singular Freehold Mage or to move outside of Russia if they want to congregate in cabals. This isn’t actually law, but mages that try to form cabals in Russia find life. . .difficult and moving outside of Russia an easy path with temptations littered in front of them. Vampires are mostly viewed with a shrug and a comment about being “good chess players”. 

 

 

 

The Simple System

 

Descriptors are chosen to represent AspectsSkillsPerks, and possible PowersAspects represent a character’s overall being and broad aptitudes. They fall into three arenas: Mental, Social, Physical. Mental covers how they think and their skill at puzzling through life in general. Social covers how well they interact with others and how they go about it. Physical represents the person’s bodily control and fitness. For each Disadvantage Descriptor you take you gain two Advantage Descriptors to spend on defining your character’s positive Aspects. 

 

Skills follow the same rules as Aspects (for each Disadvantage Skill you take, you can take two Advantage Skills, all must be spent within skills), but these represent competencies the character has acquired through training. While there is overlap with Aspects, skills should be more focused and not have descriptors like “athletic” or “brainy” but instead like “cross-country running” or “computer programming”. Skills can be broad or narrow, but their Disadvantaged skill must match in the widest breadth of the two skill Advantages bought with it. Basically, try to keep it balanced and not game the mechanics.  

 

Some things in life aren’t covered by Aspects or Skills. Things like Wealth, Family Connections, Allies, Professional Backing, are all important parts of certain characters. They fall under the Perks category and work just like Aspects and Skills. 

 

If your game has superpowers or other supernatural components, just place them in a fourth category (usually titled Powers) that follows the same rules as above. Easy peasy.

 

Rolling the Dice

Check your descriptors for ones that seem appropriate to the scene. Roll [1d6 + (1d6 for each Descriptor that applies)]. For each Advantage applied, remove the lowest result. For each Disadvantage applied, remove the highest result. You’ll be left with 1d6 at the end; match the number to the chart below and let that guide your character’s actions for the scene.  

 

  1. Bollix! Not only did you fail, things got worse in some other major way. Have fun with it!
  2. Well, that didn’t help. . . You failed. 
  3. What’s that? You failed, but doing so has some small side benefit for the character.
  4. Drat! You succeed, but doing so causes some complication or setback in the scene.
  5. Phew! You succeed.
  6. Excellent! You succeed and gain some other major benefit for the character.

 

Combat Style 

This can be “martial arts” or “assassin” or “drunken teen” or even “fat kid slappy”. Just a description of how your character fights. It doesn’t give Dis/Ad, just is a guide for writing.

 

 

That’s it. This isn’t a combat simulator system, just a guideline for characters and too keep PCs from being perfect at everything or having no interesting flaws to write with. Also, when rolling does come into the picture, it should be for a thematic event, not a blow-by-blow rolling. For small, quick combats, roll once. For larger or longer scenes, roll three times: first act, second act, final act. As with any system, the ST has the right to adjust descriptors to suit their story or to disallow anything they think might break the game.

 

A note on powers and other highly unlikely things for people to be able to do without training: if you’re not a werewolf, your character can’t shapeshift like a werewolf. Likewise, if you’re not a trained surgeon, heart surgery isn’t something you should be rolling for. This system is to introduce a bit of random chance to a written narrative, not simulate all of life perfectly. Don’t make a roll for something your character flat-out can’t do and be willing to give an “untrained” Disadvantage on stuff that’s specialized enough and they don’t know. 


 

Here is Kyria from Divine Right as an example:

 

Aspects

Mental 

Advantages: Super-Intelligence, Clever, Perfect Memory, Strong-Willed*

Disadvantages: Amnesiac, Inhuman*

 

Social 

Advantages: Super-Beauty, Playful, Charming, Strong-Willed*

Disadvantages: Impulsive, Callous, Childish, Inhuman* 

 

Physical 

Advantages: Superhumanly Perfect, Inhumanly Strong, Inhuman Endurance

Disadvantages:

 

Skills

Advantages: Acting, Carousing, Murder, Theft, Intrusion, Interrogation

Disadvantages: Public Speaking, Cooking, Long-Term Planning

 

Perks

Advantages: Media Darling (Sweetheart Stormer), Stormer Celebrity

Disadvantages: Secret Past

 

Powers

Advantages: Flight, Telepathy, Environmental Immunity, Need-less Organism

Disadvantages: Super-Manipulation, Energy Attacks

 

Combat Style 

Assassin’s Dirty Fighting

 

*Inhuman is listed twice because it affects both arenas. It still only counts as one Disadvantage. Disadvantages can be applied or invoked outside of their “home” arena under Aspects if it makes sense in the scene. The ST is the final arbiter if the players involved cannot come to an accord on the application. Pairing a strongly “travelling” Disadvantage with an Advantage or two that also “travel”, such as Strong-Willed for Kyria, can be good parity.


 

 

Puck from the St. Louis SPI LARP as a simpler example:

Aspects

Mental 

Advantages: Clever, Observant

Disadvantages: Uneducated

 

Social

Advantages: Charismatic, Sensual

Disadvantages: Possessive

 

Physical

Advantages: Toned, Attractive

Disadvantages: Short

 

Skills

Advantages: Sex, Seduction, Jewelry Crafting, Singing, Interpersonal Relations, Manipulation 

Disadvantages: Combat, Pop Culture, Mechanics

 

Perks

Advantages: The Players, Hobgoblins, Fairest, Spring 

Disadvantages: Family Ties, Autumn

 

Powers

Advantages: Healer, Token-Making

Disadvantages: Hedge-spinning

 

Combat Style 

Berserker swordsman

 

 

 

 

 

Who's interested? Got questions? Demands cookies and alcohol for actually reading through all of that?

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NAME:  Belle Alin Fontenot 

Age: 30

Ethnicity: cajun

TLDR: Voodoo halfbreed klutz

Concept: youngest granddaughter of Old Family (Dad had a fling with a backwater waitress, then they both went and got killed, so Belle is the black sheep, and half blooded Fontenot, and was raised in the swamps by mother’s kin). Has powers from her mom’s side, and blends them into Voodoo. Runs a teashop that sells a few antiquities, does tarot readings on the side. Family curse has made her Aunts/Uncles offspring die off, so the family has HAD to accept her.

Face claim: Ali Landry

Ali Landry

 

 

Aspects

 

Mental Advantages: Eidetic Memory, Runa Thinking

Disadvantages: Bad Time Management

 

Social Advantages: Friendly, Guile, Savvy

Disadvantages: Persistent Psychometry (diagnosed as SPD), Eccentric, Mixed Blood
 

Physical Advantages: Ambidextrous, Attractive, Resistant (Illness, Fatigue, Common Poisons)

Disadvantages: Small-framed, Klutz

 

Skills

Advantages: Antiques, Tea, Tarot Card Readings, Voodoo

Disadvantages: Smart Devices, Sports
 

Perks

Advantages: Family Ties, Pillar of the Community, Wealth, Well-Connected

Disadvantages: Black Sheep, Cursed

 

Powers

Advantages: Voodoo Traditions (Divination, Mediumship, Psychometry, Guardian Loa, Curses, Blessings)

Disadvantages: Blood Sacrifice, Persistent Psychometry, Painful Spontaneous Divinations

 

Combat Style: Curse-and-run!

Edited by Jekca
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Guys, I'm having an issue being able to c/p out of Microsoft Word documents. Please use a different program to send me character sheets in, preferably just the body of a in a site PM. 

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