Monday 15 May 2017


Arnold asked me for classes to go with the hexcrawl I wrote. I came up with seven that I think more or less cover the scope of what I'm trying to do in SUBLIGHT. Some of these are more based around skill and some are more based around social position, although really I think the two things are kind of inseparable.

ALIENIST. Like a psychiatrist but for AIs. Since AI is embedded in everything this is a little like being a hacker and a little like communing with the spirit world. Hacking is always hard to make interesting in games, so I want to replace pretty much all of it with social challenges, such that getting through the locked door is less about making a roll or solving some kind of logic puzzle and more about negotiating with the bored computer that runs everything in the complex. I also want to establish that AIs are deeply weird, in some ways like people with mental illnesses and in some ways like faeries or demons than need to be carefully bargained with. Alienists know all the tricks about how to do that, with the consequence that they tend to be pretty weird themselves.

SCAVENGER. Understands how machines work. Can take them apart and use them to build other ones. This might cover anything from a safecracker to a long-haul trucker to an industrial saboteur who specialises in precision explosives. I want each of these classes to have some kind of implicit goal, and the scavenger's, presumably, is to find interesting new bits of tech to add to their big rig or robot buddy or favourite gun or suit of power armour or whatever. Can't work with AI the way an alienist can, and might have an unfortunate tendency to see even a sapient robot as useful bundle of parts.

ENFORCER. Resolves situations through the intelligent deployment of violence. Skilled in both detective work and gunplay, and knows when to stand their ground and when to walk away. The class most likely to get into a Mexican standoff. An enforcer could be a sheriff, a standover man, a bodyguard or a bounty hunter, or anyone else whose job involves shooting at people until they do what you want. Sam Spade is one, as is Raylan Givens, and to be honest the protagonist of pretty much every movie.

APOSTLE. The representative of some religion, whose job is to provide spiritual and material comfort to those in need. Derives much of their power and authority from their social status - has useful contacts among the faithful and can, in emergencies, rally the flock to their cause. I imagine this as being a kind of jack-of-all-trades class, with maybe even the ability to borrow another class' skills - so a Jain monk might be an expert vet, a Buddhist would know kung fu, a worshipper of Tiamat the Mother Machine might have some skill at preaching to AI.

SAWBONES. Not necessarily the mad scientist class. Cuts up people and animals, then puts them back together, hopefully better than before. Synthesises their own customised medicines and drugs, as well as viruses and genetically-altered strains of bacteria. The guy to go to if you want a new set of fingerprints, a robot eye hooked up to your optic nerve, a pill that will make you immune to pain, an untraceable poison, a tailored plague that makes your enemies schizophrenic, a fun night on the town, a tooth pulled or somebody tortured to death.

PIONEER. Lives off the land. Understands animal behavior and ecosystem management. Knows how much nitrogen is in the soil and how to fight a bear. All habitable environments in space are artificial, from the smallest orbital oxygen bubble to the vast terraformed hinterlands of Mars, and having somebody around who knows how to maintain the delicate cycle of nutrients which sustains all organic life can mean the difference between life and death, unless of course you are a robot and don't give a shit. The pioneer could be a gaucho, a mountain man, a fur trapper, an isolated farmer or anyone else who's uncomfortable in cities and maybe has an animal companion.

EXECUTIVE. Has the greatest power of all - money. Unlike all these other plebs, the executive is a ranking member of some corporation, government, wealthy family or other high-status and well-funded organisation. They have way better starting equipment than anyone else, and the social connections to do stuff like get out of jail or be invited to the party, but these things have to cover for a lack of actual physical skills and the hassle of having a boss who can tell you to do stuff. Kind of the opposite of the pioneer, in that they're useful in urban environments and bad in the wilderness.

Wednesday 3 May 2017


A hexcrawl I made for SUBLIGHT, my near-future hard SF setting. This is a section of the hinterlands of a terraformed Mars, where people go to flee civilisation and make a new life for themselves in the desert. Things that are in it:

- tyrannical Buddhist monks ruling from a palace atop a waterfall
- an elevated highway that runs across the map, abandoned and home to flying bandits (this is the grey line)
- mining towns run by the East Wind Company, who combine ruthless capitalism with qi gong
- satellite shamans who may or may not derive strange radio powers from orbital gods
- a cadre of deadly lawpersons bound to clean up the hinterlands, whether the locals like it or not

It's too long to post here so I'm giving it to you in this Google doc. i hope that u like it