I'm going to be totally up-front here: you deserve a better blog post than what you're about to read. On the downside, this month has been devoted largely to revising the Chimera Core Rules to version 2.1, and, as usual, my OCD precludes any chance of wrapping up that sort of project with anything resembling rapidity. On the plus side, Chimera 2.1 is complete and due out tomorrow, so that puts that particular effort to bed and lets me attend to some backburner projects that deserve some love.
Regardless, and as a consequence of my lackluster time management, I decided to plunder my commonplace book and cherry-pick some of the more promising ideas to share. Here, then, is a smattering of unrelated notes that I hope will be entertaining to most, if not useful to some.
The concept is two brothers who fight better as a pair than singly. In mundane terms, this could be the result of extensive training as a pair, so that they anticipate each others moves and can thus complement each other in the press of combat. Or, this could be the result of some magical effect, probably bestowed upon the brothers during infancy (maybe even a prophecy of some sort). Either way, they fight normally when alone. But when they fight within, say 10' per level of each other, they each gain +4 to hit in melee (In Chimera terms, that means each makes his Fight roll at DL –1 when paired).
Incremental Fission Pulse Weapon
This is a heavy weapon for squads of sci-fi troops. The IFP fires a particle beam, but the nature of the fission power core allows variable damage at variable range. The weapon's power source must be enabled before firing. If fired that round, the beam has a range of 2" and does 1d4 damage. However, if allowed to "heat up" for a few rounds, the wielder can extend range and damage as shown:
Rate of Fire
At the end of each round a shot is not made, the GM must determine if the IFP overheats. If this occurs, damage equals the current damage die to all targets within a medium blast radius (centred on the weapon's wielder). If you're using the Chimera gear quality guidelines, each point of quality reduces the chance of overheating by 10%. After a shot is discharged, the weapon reverts to 1d4 damage, as if it had just been powered on.
How about a race whose affinity for stone is so strong that their buried dead must be in physical contact with natural rock? Dwarves are an easy pick, but this concept is appropriate for hill nomads, mountain people, or maybe a race of builders who create all kinds of amazing structures out of stone. Maybe their lore supports this practice because it prevents the corpse from rising as undead. They might bury criminals or unpopular leaders in sand as a sign of disrespect, then "cap" the grave with a sealed, stone mausoleum to trap the corpse inside if it does rise. Mmmmm...special eternal torture...
A side-effect of some terrible disease might allow the victim to see into the ethereal plane. There, he can see incorporeal creatures, maybe ancestors, and probably some cool stuff that sages and academics would love to know about. Unfortunately, by the time the victim gains this sight, the disease has reached an incurable stage, and the poor patient has only 2d12 hours to live. I suspect a group of learned hospitaliers would shelter such unfortunates, giving such comfort as they can (and furiously writing down everything) until the patient passes. There might also be evil sorcerers who kidnap people and purposely inflict them with the disease when they want answers to ethereal questions.
Lidless Eye Cult
I think this was from a bad horror movie, but what about a cult who kidnaps people for sacrifice. Before they begin the ceremony, they remove the victim's eyelids. Gross, yes, but what does it say about these sick bastards? Maybe they kidnap only unbelievers, and this is their way to ensure that the victim "sees" the True Way. Or maybe they believe that the True Way is recognisable only in the afterlife, through a vision granted only to the worthy—in this case, removing the victim's eyelids is really just them being helpful. Based on this practice, interesting questions come up about the cult's perspective on light/dark and illusion vs. true-sight.
I Can See for Miles
As a world hook, you might consider a setting where only land above a certain elevation is habitable. Sure, the lowlands could be flooded, but you want PCs to explore, so think about other reasons why people can live only at high altitudes. Maybe the lands are safe, but only for part of the year (because of tidal surges that ultimately recede). Maybe there's a blanket of pollution, smog, or radiation that poisons all living things below it. Maybe the lowlands are habitable, but not in a way that most people could cope with: the radiation mutates the living, the pollution imposes a really high mortality rate, the smog makes crops poison to highlanders. Meanwhile, back in the highlands, people might live in domes for protection. They might have improved lung capacity (bonus vs. Fatigue rolls). They might also have religious groups who constantly warn of the infidels who were punished by the gods to live in the hellish lowlands.
Inspired by the Templars, what about a group of once-noble knights who, failing in some grand mission, are now outlaws. I'm thinking they were supposed to guard (or obtain and return with) a sacred relic, but the relic was lost, taken, or desecrated. Now the knights are shamed for their failure, persecuted by their non-secular sponsors as heretics or infidels. Maybe they can redeem themselves by regaining the relic, or maybe they're just a pawn in a political power play. Either way, until they find a way to show themselves again, they live in isolated enclaves spread out across the realm and even the world. The church sponsors bounty hunters to bring them to justice, but the knights still have a few allies here and there.
Without going into a lot of detail about science and physics, I'm assuming Faster Than Light (FTL) drives are expensive in any sci-fi campaign. Only the most advanced ships have them, and these are probably reserved for the military. Still, there are a lot of other ships that need to travel great distances. These smaller vessels are equipped with FTL tethers, some software interface that allows them to "hook up" with an actual FTL ship and be ferried to faraway destinations. Consider merchant ships forced to tether to government-owned tether vessels—that alone lays the groundwork for a fairly complex political/economic structure: merchants resent paying the government's fees, military fleets could tether exploration or colony vessels (or leave them behind when their tethers fail), and terrorists could tether fireships to FTL vessels to wreak havoc. I imagine there would even be ships specifically designed to tether others—not unlike the "milk cow" U-boats that ferried supplies, food, and fuel to ships of the Kriegsmarine during WWII.
There you have it—my lazy contribution to this week's blog. I hope you find something of use above. Feel free to flesh it out in your own campaign, or build off it in any way that suits your setting and your imagination. If you use any of these, drop me a line—I'd love to see how they turn out.